“The act of sharing will be the glue that binds everything together. We’re all pieces of the puzzle, but someone has to go through the work of putting us together to make the big picture emerge, and I see Impact360 playing a key role in that.”

– Kim Klockow-McClain,
Impact360 Alliance Vice Chair

The Communication of Forecast Uncertainty

Impact360 Alliance vice chair Kim Klockow-McClain is a research scientist and the societal applications coordinator for the Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies (CIMMS). Kim plays a valuable role in our work to connect researchers, practitioners, needs, and resources to create problem-focused professional communities that can design scalable solutions. She recently shared an “inside look” at being a researcher working to bridge the researcher-practitioner communication gap in the natural hazards and disasters space.

Bridging the Gap in a Research Setting

Kim’s research applies behavioral science methods to address pressing issues in the management of weather and climate risk, especially in the communication of forecast uncertainty and response to hazardous weather warnings. Her work with practitioners takes place primarily in the NOAA Hazardous Weather Testbed. The Testbed, hosted at the NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory, is used by numerous projects to bring researchers and practitioners together in a quasi-realistic environment where they can test prototype technologies as they’re being developed.

How does the set up of this facility foster collaboration and co-creation?

Kim: I use this facility to conduct collaborative social scientific research that bridges developers, practitioners (forecasters, emergency managers, and broadcasters), and social scientific researchers from across many academic disciplines, including psychology, geography, human factors, and communication. By working together, our experiments consider the use of new technologies and techniques through the entire forecast process, examining the communication process and assuring that messages are receivable, understandable, and usable.

Examining the Communication Process

Co-Creating Together

What have been some of your favorite moments co-creating with practitioners?

Kim: On the research and development side, it can be difficult to know when your technology is really ready for prime time. My favorite moments are always the debriefs at the end of the week when our practitioners ask us how soon our technologies will be available. It’s so validating to hear their enthusiasm after having a week of hands-on experience with the tools.

How do you see Impact360 Alliance supporting researchers and practitioners to better communicate and work together?

Kim: Just today I was interviewing a forecaster and I learned he’s adjusted his warning practices based on social science research findings. He considers the whole warning response process and warns in such a way that the people in his warning area have enough time to do tasks like confirming and personalizing the threat. This was knowledge he’d gained through simple interactions at conferences, and it’s had an enormous impact!

I see Impact360 serving as a connector for interactions like this, helping people at various stages of their research or practice to envision their next steps and identify the partnerships needed to take those steps.

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Reducing natural hazard impacts and disaster risk requires better communication and collaboration between researchers and practitioners. We want to hear from you: What are the challenges and victories you encounter with integrating research and practice in your work?

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