Terms of Reference

Background: In 2011, the AMS established the ad hoc Committee to Improve Climate Change Communication (CICCC).  The Committee has hosted a number of symposia and respectful discussions, through informal “climate cafes” engaging a broad range of individuals.  In addition, the committee, in collaboration with George Mason University, conducted a broad survey of AMS members’ perspectives on climate change communication.survey of AMS members perspectives on climate change communication.  The ad hoc committee has been successful in meeting its vision of


“Climate change discussion in the weather and climate and related sciences is characterized by effective communication that enhances understanding and respect and separates the discussion of the science from the discussion of politics.  More effective communication leads to a more efficient use and application of weather and climate and related sciences by the enterprise and its stakeholders.


The AMS, through the Board on Enterprise Communication (BEC) under the Commission on Weather, Water, and Climate Enterprise (CWWCE), asked that the success of the ad hoc committee lead to the establishment of a regular standing committee under the BEC.  The vision, purpose, and structure of this standing committee, proposed to be called Committee on Effective Communication of Weather and Climate Information (CECWCI) outlined below, reflect the goal of continuing the vision and success of the ad hoc CICCC while broadening the role of the committee to facilitate effective communication of weather and climate information within our sciences and to the larger user community, especially our most important “user”, the general public.  Some of the vision, mission, and goals of this committee also reflect the goals outlined in the recommendations of the NRC report “Finishing the Forecast.”


Vision:  The nation’s weather/climate services are a shared public/private/academic enterprise (also reflective of the AMS) that has a common goal of having science that is of best service to the public, the country, the economy and the world.  Effective, frank, and respectful discussion of the science and the communication of the information (e.g. results, impacts, forecasts) are integral to improved decision-making, from the very short-term and small-scale weather events to the longer-term climate events.  Combining our physical science knowledge, with expertise from the communication and social sciences for improved decision-making, is critical to advancing the public’s understanding of weather and climate risks and determining the best course of action.  Communication that is more effective also leads to more efficient uses and applications of weather and climate information by stakeholders and all segments of the economy.  To that end, this Committee will focus on the following goals:


  • Champion discussion on the importance, opportunities, and challenges of effectively communicating weather and climate information to stakeholders.


  • Support the discussion of areas of weather and climate science uncertainties and seek to engage outside expertise (e.g. social scientists) to facilitate better decision-making.


  • Provide an unbiased exchange within our community of the current state of the knowledge in weather forecasting, climate science, variability, and change and the corresponding risks/opportunities in these areas.


  • Support and promote advances in effective communication of weather information, climate sciences, the information and data, the forecasts and outlooks, including the uncertainties, and facilitate independent engagement with the user/decision-maker.



  • Foster collaboration between experts in the physical core “forecasting” arena of the weather/climate enterprise and experts in communications to work respectfully and cooperatively for more effective communication with “users” and establish a greater understanding of how “users” incorporate weather and climate information to make decisions.


  • Facilitate continued local and regional discussions (such as “climate cafes”) initiated by the CICCC that enable open, respectful scientific views on climate.


Committee Activities:  The Committee will operate within the overall mission of the AMS as a scientific and professional society.  The Committee will collaborate with AMS committees and Program Chairs of AMS meetings on climate and climate change, weather analysis and forecasts, severe local storms, national emergency management, broadcast meteorology, and other program and symposia chairs as appropriate to advance the vision and mission of the committee.  The Committee will work directly with the AMS national meeting chairs and other appropriate AMS meetings to encourage, support, and include sessions within specialized meetings as well as incorporate more general “Town Halls” focused on respectful discussion (following the work of the ad hoc CICCC) of climate and climate change science, impacts, more effective communication of weather forecasts from short term weather warnings to larger scale weather events.  One key objective is to facilitate and encourage advances in communication that will lead to the best decision-making.  The Committee will continue to engage in regional local chapter workshops and “café” type sessions with targeted involvement from the government, academic, and private sectors.  Regular overviews of these efforts which will expand physical-social science convergences, and the development of best practices in these areas will be published in BAMS or made available (e.g. via webcasts) for AMS members and beyond as appropriate.


Committee Meeting Frequency:  The Committee, will typically meet in-person at the AMS Annual Meeting and regularly via conference call to review committee activities of the preceding year and plan for activities for the coming year.  The committee climate/weather groups will meet whenever appropriate or convenient at other AMS meetings and regularly by conference call.


Responsibilities and Membership: The Committee will reflect the government, academic and private sectors of the weather, water and climate enterprise and to the extent possible those who have direct contact with the various segments of our society (general public, business, elected or appointed officials etc.) who are the recipients of weather and climate forecast information, issues and data.  The Committee should also  seek outside expertise in the communication and psychological sciences to actively bring in new thoughts of more effective communication of weather and climate forecasts, information and data.  The Committee and committee sub-chairs will also, through regular discussions (through traditional or digital media including webinars and blogs), keep the general AMS membership informed of the Committee’s work and plans.


The Committee membership should be a source of ideas, experiences and research that will support the committee’s, and all sectors of the AMS, goal of seeking ways of more effectively communicating the results of the science to the user that will result in the best weather/climate related decision.


Committee Terms:  The Committee will consist of six (6) to fifteen (15) members appointed by the Chair of the BEC in consultation with the CWWCE Commissioner (who has final approval) and the Committee Chairs.  Additional members may be solicited by the Chair as necessary to fulfill the needs of specific tasks and activities, but with a goal to maintain a balanced representation from the government, private, and academic sectors.  The Committee and its members will work collaboratively to focus on the aforementioned topics related to effective and open communication on weather and climate information. Terms for the Chair and committee members will be for three years.  Committee membership continuity with sequential turnover will be used for managing the membership of the committee.  Members will be selected by the Chair(s) in consultation with the Chair of the BEC.  Final approval of the Chair(s) and members will be provided by the CWWCE Commissioner.