Weather, Climate, and Society (WCAS) published its first issue in 2009. It aimed to fill a gap, to provide an international forum for interdisciplinary and policy-relevant scholarship concerning the intersection of the social sciences and the weather and climate sciences. As we enter our tenth year, let us consider how well we are achieving our aim.
There has been no shortage of manuscripts submitted to WCAS, spanning a wide range of topics, just as intended, from the theoretical to the practical and the translation between the two. Our authors have considered the details of cars being flipped over in tornadoes and whether aircraft design specifications will remain suitable under changing weather conditions. Other papers have examined perceptions of climate change and the social, cultural, and political forces that shape their views. The efficacy of storm warnings and responses has been reviewed in various ways, with the aim of improving outcomes and saving lives. Similarly, contributors have looked at the delivery of weather and climate information to constituencies from African farmers to American water managers, with recommendations for how to improve communication and understanding. Our readers have also had the chance to learn about the role of weather and climate through the grand sweep of history and their effects on specific industries through time. Any of our editors can speak to the breadth of topics they consider as they supervise peer reviews and make decisions. This is a great strength of WCAS.
WCAS enjoys a global reach. It is not surprising, for a journal of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) that is based in the United States, that a majority of authors and reviewers are from North America and that a majority of our papers concern North American topics. That said, we have had corresponding authors from 29 countries and reviewers from 49 countries, with both totals including scholars from all of the inhabited continents. Fewer than 60% of the papers focus on North America (in which I include Canada, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean Sea region), with the rest distributed throughout the world or concerned with global matters. The elimination in 2016 of author page charges for publishing in WCAS should help to make publication more feasible for a wider range of authors, further broadening participation in the global discussion of globally relevant issues.
Interdisciplinarity is not easy to measure, but some indicators can provide insight. The departmental affiliations of our corresponding authors (at least, those for whom we have information that can be analyzed in this way) are nearly evenly split between the social sciences, with 106, and the natural sciences, with 101. Identifying specific disciplines is a little less reliable, but a rough count shows that environmental sciences and geography lead the way, each accounting for about one-fifth of the total. A broad category of atmospheric, meteorological, and climate sciences covers another tenth of our authors. Economics and engineering together make up another tenth, with many other disciplines—psychology, mathematics, communications, and so on—included in the remainder. The fact that WCAS is attracting contributors from such a range of fields, taking in nearly equal numbers from the social and natural sciences, suggests that we are fulfilling our aim of providing a home for all comers, particularly for papers that do not fit neatly into the more discipline-aligned scope of many other journals.
These characteristics—that WCAS is international, interdisciplinary, and inviting—are not an accident. The AMS Publications Commission was willing to take a chance on a novel publishing venture. Authors were willing to try it out. Reviewers were willing to add their labor. Editors and staff have kept the peer reviews and decisions moving along, helping to shape the scope and style of WCAS as we go. And our readers have continued to read and regularly cite the papers we publish, as reflected in our impact factor, among other measures. As long as weather and climate matter to human society, the forum provided by WCAS will have a purpose. I give my thanks to all who continue to make it possible for us to carry out a vital role in shaping today’s world and in creating the world of tomorrow.