Purpose of this Site, Audience, and Pathway to its Development

This site describes a new community-initiated and -governed organizing framework that will support the multi-sector and interdisciplinary learning, interaction, and collaboration necessary to help reduce the horrific loss of life and property, and the associated economic and social disruption, wrought by extreme environmental events. [1]  The end-to-end “research to practice” framework, known as the Alliance for Integrative Approaches to Extreme Environmental Events (or more simply, the Alliance), is an informal public-private partnership comprising researchers from social, behavioral and economic science (SBES) disciplines, engineers, mathematicians and technologists, research and operational meteorologists, emergency managers, and other strategic partners including Federal agencies, non-profit organizations, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, and the private sector. Collectively, these individuals and organizations represent the audience for the present document and the “community” by which the Alliance is to be governed and also is intended to serve.

Funded initially by a $3 million private gift, which is a seed planted with the intent of catalyzing long-term funding from many other sources in a true multi-sector partnership, the goal of the Alliance is twofold: first, to help members of the aforementioned broad community overcome obstacles to meaningful interaction so that progress can be made on challenges holistically, and collaboratively, in their full complexity utilizing all resources available; and second, to facilitate interdisciplinary research, and the associated transition of research outcomes to practice—including rapid technology prototyping and insertion—in ways that advance the Nation’s agenda to substantially reduce societal harm from extreme environmental events.

The Alliance was crafted partly in response to multiple community recommendations, particularly those made in response to several community workshops (see Background & Motivation). The most recent (Living With Extreme Weather, or LWEW, Workshop) was held in Norman, Oklahoma on May 18–20, 2015, and therein attendees articulated the need for a structured framework to facilitate multi-disciplinary community-building, and active, collaborative research engagement—especially involving the social, behavioral and economic sciences (SBES)—to aid effectual responses to extreme environmental events and reduce the associated loss of life and property (Droegemeier et al. 2016). The core premise of the Alliance is that broad and interdisciplinary scholarly collaborations, interwoven with the needs and work of operational practitioners and involving a multiplicity of partners and stakeholders, provide uniquely powerful foundations for more effective understanding of, communication regarding, and response to extreme environmental events. Reflecting its community-governed and multi-partner framework, the Alliance is a quasi-virtual organization, with a leadership team that likely will be geographically distributed.

Acting upon the recommendations noted above, a “writing team,”[2] drawn from the international community across a diverse array of disciplines and organizations (Table 1) and organized by the LWEW Workshop planning committee, was assembled to build out the Alliance concept, described provisionally in Droegemeier et al. (2016). The writing team met in Norman, Oklahoma on June 14–16, 2016, and multiple times subsequently via teleconference, to prepare a draft of the planning document for community input. That input was solicited via email requests to all participations of previous relevant workshops, and to members of list serves from organizations including:

  • American Meteorological Society (AMS)
  • AMS Board on Private Sector Meteorology (BPSM)
  • AMS Certified Consulting Meteorologists (CCM)
  • National Weather Association (NWA)
  • National Emergency Management Association (NEMA)
  • International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM)
  • National Council of Industrial Meteorologists (NCIM)
  • Black Emergency Managers Association (BEMA)
Table 1. The Alliance Writing Team that prepared the current document, with input from the national community, and in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Oklahoma, NOAA, and the National Severe Storms Laboratory.
Last Name First Name Institution Discipline/Interests
Emrich Chris University of Central Florida Geography/Hazards & Vulnerability
Heinselman Pamela NOAA/NSSL Meteorologist/Communication
Henderson Jennifer Virginia Tech & NCAR Anthropology, History, Philosophy (Ethics)
Joslyn Susan University of Washington Cognitive Psychology
Lupia Arthur (Skip) University of Michigan Political Science, Decision Making with Little Information, Complex Information Flows
Sutter Daniel Troy University Economics
Sutton Jeanette University of Kentucky Health/Risk Communication
Trainor Joseph University of Delaware Sociology/Disasters
Etkin David York University, Toronto Disaster & Emergency Management

Additionally, input was sought from thousands of social, behavioral and statistical science scholars, humanists, and legal scholars who are members of the 110 professional organizations represented by the Consortium of Social Science Organizations (COSSA).

Two open, national conference calls were held on September 16 and 22, 2016, to obtain additional community input, to address questions, and to dialog about the Alliance. The present document, now in final form, reflects careful consideration of that substantial community guidance by the writing team and thus should be viewed as a document created by the community.

[1] Here, we define extreme environmental events to include but not be limited to severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, hurricanes, earthquakes, hailstorms, floods, tsunamis, heat waves, and droughts. Although human-induced activities such as air pollution episodes, toxic spills/releases, climate change, and terrorism are not expressly represented at this time, outcomes from activities assisted by the Alliance will be highly relevant to them as well, and we envision the Alliance agenda expanding over time as its efforts evolve.

[2] Writing team member Dr. Joe Trainor, University of Delaware, also serves on the newly created National Research Council panel for the NOAA-sponsored study cited in Background & Motivation