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Visualizing volcanic ash forecasts: scientist and stakeholder decisions using different graphical representations and conflicting forecasts

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Mulder, K. J., Lickiss, M., Harvey, N., Black, A., Charlton-Perez, A., Dacre, H. and McCloy, R. (2017) Visualizing volcanic ash forecasts: scientist and stakeholder decisions using different graphical representations and conflicting forecasts. Weather, Climate and Society, 9 (3). pp. 333-348. ISSN 1948-8327

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1175/WCAS-D-16-0062.1

Abstract/Summary

During volcanic eruptions, Volcanic Ash Advisory Centres issue ash advisories for aviation showing the forecasted outermost extent of the ash cloud. During the 2010 Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull eruption, the UK Met Office produced supplementary forecasts of quantitative ash concentration, due to demand from airlines. Additionally, satellite retrievals of estimated volcanic ash concentration are now available. To test how these additional graphical representations of volcanic ash affect flight decisions, whether users infer uncertainty in graphical forecasts of volcanic ash, and how decisions are made when given conflicting forecasts, a survey was conducted of 25 delegates representing UK research and airline operations dealing with volcanic ash. Respondents were more risk-seeking with safer flight paths and risk-averse with riskier flight paths when given location and concentration forecasts compared to when given only the outermost extent of the ash. Respondents representing operations were more risk-seeking than respondents representing research. Additionally, most respondents' hand-drawn no-fly zones were larger than the areas of unsafe ash concentrations in the forecasts. This conservatism implies that respondents inferred uncertainty from the volcanic ash concentration forecasts. When given conflicting forecasts, respondents became more conservative than when given a single forecast. The respondents were also more risk-seeking with high-risk flight paths and more risk-averse with low-risk flight paths when given conflicting forecasts than when given a single forecast. The results show that concentration forecasts seem to reduce flight cancellations while maintaining safety. Open discussion with the respondents suggested that definitions of "uncertainty" may differ between research and operations.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Arts and Communication Design > Typography & Graphic Communication
Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:68953
Publisher:American Meteorological Society

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