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Thomas Kox
and
Annegret H. Thieken

Abstract

Research suggests that providing weather forecast end users with additional information about the forecast uncertainty of a possible event can enhance the preparation of mitigation measures. But not all users have the same threshold for taking action. This paper focuses on the question of whether there are influencing factors that determine decision thresholds for numerical weather forecast information beginning at which the general public would start to take protective action.

In spring 2014, 1342 residents of Berlin, Germany participated in a survey. Questions related to the following topics: perception of and prior experience with severe weather, trustworthiness of forecasters and confidence in weather forecasts, and sociodemographic and socioeconomic characteristics. Within the questionnaire a scenario was created in order to determine individual decision thresholds and see whether subgroups of the sample lead to different thresholds.

Results show that people’s willingness to act tends to be higher and decision thresholds tend to be lower if the expected weather event is more severe or the property at risk is of higher value. Several influencing factors of risk perception have significant effects such as education, housing status, and ability to act, whereas classic sociodemographic determinants alone are often not sufficient to fully grasp risk perception and protection behavior.

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