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Use and Understanding of (Severe) Weather Forecasts

Use and Understanding of (Severe) Weather Forecasts

In the course of global warming, the occurrence of weather extremes is expected to increase in the coming years. It is particularly important in the context of extreme weather events such as heavy rain or storms that the population is reached with forecasts and warnings at an early stage. At present, there are many assumptions, but no reliable information about the ways in which people obtain information about the weather. It is unclear, for example, whether weather reports on TV and radio still reach large parts of the population or whether people tend to orient themselves individually towards weather apps on their smartphones.

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Project Description

Whereas in broadcasting, in addition to weather developments that can be expected in the longer term, classifying explanations and uncertainties are communicated, the information provided by weather apps is reduced to symbols and isolated key figures with a short-term perspective. This reduction particularly entails the risk that the information, which typically implies uncertainties and probabilities, is not properly understood and that wrong conclusions are drawn from it. This does not only involve the risk that people may not be sufficiently prepared for corresponding extreme weather events, but may also be associated with a loss of confidence in scientific results and corresponding media offerings.

In order to approach the topic, a representative online survey will be carried out. The survey will ask which sources people use to obtain information about weather forecasts, how the information is understood, and to what extent people trust scientific findings or communication. Findings in this regard are particularly helpful for meteorologists, climate researchers, authorities and other actors, such as warning services, and make a general contribution to understanding the interplay between science, the media and trust.

Photo: Johannes Plenio / Unsplash

Project Information


Duration: 2019-2020

Research programme:
RP1 - Transformation of Public Communication

Involved persons

Dr. Sascha Hölig

Third party

Seed-Money Projekt des Instituts

Cooperation Partner

Contact person

Dr. Sascha Hölig
Senior Researcher Media Use

Dr. Sascha Hölig

Leibniz-Institut für Medienforschung | Hans-Bredow-Institut (HBI)
Rothenbaumchaussee 36
20148 Hamburg

Tel. +49 (0)40 45 02 17 - 84
Fax +49 (0)40 45 02 17 - 77

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