Judgment and Decision Making in Dynamic Tasks: The Case of Forecasting the Microburst

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  • 1 Center for Research on Judgment and Policy, University of Colorado, Boulder; Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado/NOAA, Boulder
  • | 2 Center for Research on Judgment and Policy, University of Colorado, Boulder (Current address: Center for Policy Research, The University at Albany, State University of New York)
  • | 3 Center for Research on Judgment and Policy, University of Colorado, Boulder
  • | 4 Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre, Melbourne, Australia
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Abstract

Two studies of microburst forecasting were conducted in order to demonstrate the utility of applying theoretical and methodological concepts from judgment and decision making to meteorology. A hierarchical model of the judgment process is outlined in which a precursor identification phase is separated from the prediction phase. In the first study, forecasters were provided with specific, unambiguous precursor values and were asked to provide judgments regarding the probability of a microburst. Results indicated that the meteorologists' forecast were adequately predicted by a linear model. Modest agreement was observed among the forecasters’ judgments. In the second study, forecasters viewed storms under dynamic conditions representative of their usual operational setting. They made judgments regarding precursor values, as well as of the probability of a microburst occurring. The forecasters’ agreement regarding microburst predictions was found to be lower than in the first study. Surprisingly, agreement regarding the (subjectively) most important precursor value was near zero. These results indicate that there are indeed practical advantages to be gained from a better understanding of the precursor identification and prediction phases of the forecasting process.

Abstract

Two studies of microburst forecasting were conducted in order to demonstrate the utility of applying theoretical and methodological concepts from judgment and decision making to meteorology. A hierarchical model of the judgment process is outlined in which a precursor identification phase is separated from the prediction phase. In the first study, forecasters were provided with specific, unambiguous precursor values and were asked to provide judgments regarding the probability of a microburst. Results indicated that the meteorologists' forecast were adequately predicted by a linear model. Modest agreement was observed among the forecasters’ judgments. In the second study, forecasters viewed storms under dynamic conditions representative of their usual operational setting. They made judgments regarding precursor values, as well as of the probability of a microburst occurring. The forecasters’ agreement regarding microburst predictions was found to be lower than in the first study. Surprisingly, agreement regarding the (subjectively) most important precursor value was near zero. These results indicate that there are indeed practical advantages to be gained from a better understanding of the precursor identification and prediction phases of the forecasting process.

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