IUMS 2014 - Montréal, Canada

User, Application & Social Science (UAS) Program


Program Overview

The overall theme of the OSC isSeamless Prediction of the Earth System: from minutes to months. With improved and seamless prediction capability as the scientific program backdrop, the User, Application & Social Science (UAS) Program provides an open forum where the experiences and perspectives of a variety of information providers and users will be combined with the latest applications and methodological advances in social science to:

  • Demonstrate and document recent progress, highlighting and sharing lessons from both successful and ‘less successful’ projects and applications;
  • Identify and deliberate areas of practice, social science research methods, and training and education requiring new or continued attention;
  • Expand and connect the interdisciplinary weather and society community; and
  • Develop conference positions and recommendations regarding the state and advancement of knowledge and practice.


The UAS Program of the conference appeals to the following groups:

  • Representatives from businesses, organizations and government agencies with experience in, and responsibility for, managing weather-related risks and opportunities;
  • Private enterprise, non-government organizations, and public sector institutions that provide, communicate, and tailor weather and related risk or impact information, advice and services to others in support of their decision-making;
  • Academic, government, or private sector researchers who study and evaluate the communication and use of weather-related information in decision-making and resulting societal and economic impacts and outcomes.
  • Natural or physical scientists and practitioners interested in understanding the current and future needs and preferences of users for weather information.

Scope and Key Topics

Three focal areas are targeted for examination during the conference:

  • Individual, collective, and institutional behaviour in response to the communication, interpretation, and application of weather-related information in decision-making;
  • Understanding, measuring, and predicting the societal impacts of weather and the costs, benefits, and other impacts of weather-related information; and
  • Better practices and guidance for designing, implementing, evaluating and sustaining decision support systems and tools.

Invited speakers, panelists, and participants submitting abstracts, papers, and posters are directed to address at least one aspect of these topics from their perspective and experiences as an information provider, decision-maker, or social scientist. While weather affects almost every aspect of human activity, the organizers have identified four session categories below that align to generic application areas, decision-making responsibilities, or sets of key information providers through which improved predictions must eventually flow in order to benefit society. Contributed papers and talks will be assigned to these categories or to a cross-cutting theme that captures perspectives and issues relevant to multiple themes.

A) The Goods and Services Economy (GSE)

This category includes traditional weather-sensitive sectors of the market (or mixed) economy, such as agriculture, transport, retail, tourism and finance, as well as the private weather services sub-sector. Groupings for particular sessions will depend on the types of submissions received. Papers, talks and applications are sought across all scales of application from individual enterprises, consumers, households, associations, and sectors through to aggregate studies of regional or national economies.

B) Government Organizations and Functions (GOF)

Many of the benefits (and costs) of producing weather information and responsibilities for managing societal impacts of weather events fall within the purview of government institutions at multiple levels of jurisdiction. These agencies are empowered to provide public services and programs, develop policy, and establish and enforce standards or regulations that are affected by, or intended to directly influence, weather-related risks, impacts and opportunities. Specific sessions will align to particularly important operations (e.g., defense), responsibilities (e.g., health and safety) or jurisdictional levels (e.g., communities).

C) Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRM)

This category has been broken out for special treatment as it links back to important themes and goals of the United Nations, World Meteorological Organization, and member states. Many development constraints are connected to weather or climate-related factors, for example agricultural production, population health status, water availability, energy and transportation networks. Large scale disasters are often the result of weather events exposing underlying social, economic and environmental vulnerabilities; in other cases, weather becomes a critical variable in recovering, exacerbating or managing the effects of disasters triggered by other bio-geophysical phenomena and the failings of technology and society. The complex mixture of local and extra-regional actors invested in development and disaster management makes for challenging problems that demand great levels of coordination and understanding of situational context.

D) Communication of Weather Information (CWI)

This session category deals with those on the front line responsible for communicating and translating weather information for use in decision-making. Private and public forecasters and communicators based in broadcast media, National Meteorological and Hydrometeorological Service (NMHS) agencies, large weather-sensitive businesses, or consulting firms, still represent the most important value-adding or value-limiting interface with the vast majority of users, in particular various segments of the general public. The advent of freely available and often automated NWP product generation together with ubiquitous access to telecommunication technology, and explosion of social media has dramatically altered the communication landscape over the past 15 years, changing the information available to forecasters, the demands of users, and number of voices potentially influencing decisions.  

E) Cross-cutting and Other Topics (COT)

Several important session topics cut across two or more of the above-noted categories or otherwise address larger issues and problems. These include applications and best practices to estimate the social and economic value of weather, water, and climate information; perspectives on the future roles of National Meteorological and Hydrometeorological Services (NMHSs); and discussions concerning the training and education needs for interdisciplinary scientists, practitioners, and service providers.

F) Submitter-Specified Topics (SST)

While the range of categories above should cover most contributions, there may be a few new and unique ideas or perspectives that fall outside of the proposed list of topics. Enabling the submitter to self-define a topic for consideration enables the organizers to capture these submissions and either direct them to a planned session or define a new session.

Abstract Submission and Review

All potential speakers, panelists, and poster authors, including those giving invited talks, will be required to submit an abstract using the on-line system developed for the conference. Submissions to the UAS Program will be reviewed for quality, relevance (to the topics), and fit (i.e., placement within the progam) by a subset of the program committee and subject-matter practitioners or experts. The final decisions concerning the acceptance, type, and placement of submissions will be made by the UAS Program co-chairs. While every effort to consider individual preferences will be made, it may not be possible to accommodate everyone who requests an oral presentation.

General UAS Session Format and Conference Documentation

While subject to some modification depending on the type and number of paper and panel abstracts submitted, the following elements are proposed as generally reflected in the week-at-a-glance outline:

  • Joint or co-plenary with Science Program each day
  • Opening morning panel session on the highlighted session category (half-plenary room to maintain cohesion)
  • Two sets of afternoon panel and/or traditional parallel sessions running across all categories (depending on demand/papers). Each session consists of: i) up to 4, 15-minute presentations + 5 minutes for clarification questions, OR, ii) panel discussion with 3-4 10-minute statements followed by 40-minute moderated Q&A period.
  • Afternoon Practical Workshops or Primer Sessions related to the key session category of the day

Prior to the workshop, it is anticipated that a pre-conference survey and white paper will be used to solicit additional input and ideas for the conference. Conference results and abstracts will be recorded in conference proceedings, on the conference web server, and potentially in a special issue of a relevant social science, interdisciplinary or user-oriented journal. Follow-up meetings, presentations, and potentially projects will be developed based on recommendations, interest and available resources.






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