W.3 | Communicating Volcanic Hazards
This workshop concerns scientists’ communications with government officials regarding volcanic unrest and hazards (note: equally critical media and societal communication is out of scope for this workshop). Previous meetings, e.g., Volcano Observatory Best Practice (VOBP) workshops, have facilitated intense discussion on this theme between scientists, particularly those from volcano observatories. This workshop, sponsored by the Word Organisation of Volcano Observatories (WOVO), will continue the discussion and for the first time in an international setting include civil defense (government) officials. This two-way exchange will provide science participants the opportunity to receive practical guidance directly from civil defense practioners. This workshop will cover three aspects of communication between scientists and government officials: knowledge, responsibility, and practice.
Knowledge: Scientists have a duty to effectively communicate 1) the scope, limits, and uncertainties of scientific knowledge; 2) the types of knowledge available during a volcanic crises; and 3) scientists’ (sometimes limited) knowledge of the volcano’s current status and eruption potential. We will also consider the tools used for knowledge transfer.
Responsibility: Global experience supports the importance of clear delineation between the responsibility of monitoring scientists and government officials involved with the response to a volcanic crises. In the absence of clear roles, scientists may make decisions and take action outside their area of expertise, which can compromise the overall crises response. We will discuss approaches to collectively agree and implement the delineation of roles and facilitation of cooperation.
Practice: Effective communication requires constant interaction between scientists and government officials. It is advantageous for communication practices to be defined, implemented, and tested during “peace time” to minimize miscommunication during a crisis. We will share strategies regarding these points in the context of an international volcanological community that respects different cultural, societal and economic expectations of different countries.
The workshop marks the 5 year anniversary of a dedicated VOBP workshop in Erice in 2013 attended by ~80 people from volcano observatories and volcano research centers representing all continents. Since then, the conversation has continued at several meetings and conferences. This workshop will feature a few presentations used to initiate discussions, which will form the core of the workshop itself. An objective of the workshop is to produce a short report st relevant issues and directions emerging from the discussion.
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