DRC-Disaster Research Center

Active Studies

Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA)-Technology, Weather Forecasts, and Warnings: Integrating the End User Community

DRC Principal Investigator: 2009-Present, Joseph E Trainor; 2002-2009, Havidan Rodriguez
Faculty Researchers:Walter Diaz (Co-PI; University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez,) William Donner (Indiana University of Pensylvania,)
Current Graduate Research Assistants:Danielle Nagele, Brittany Scott
Past Graduate Research Assistants: Jenniffer Santos-Hernandez, William Donner, Daniel Marks, Melody Cotterill, Laura Monico
Past and Present Undergraduate Research Assistants: Claudia Flores, Stephen Shinn, Jasmine Wynn, Spencer Schargorodski, Yesenia Rodríguez, Kathleen Shea, Paige Mikstas, Sophia Elliott, Emily Cardner, Zephi Francis. Julian Tamayo, Sarah Welde, Precious Morris
Funding Agencies: National Science Foundation (NSF) through the Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA) Engineering Research Center.

Study Description

The Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA) project is one of a small number of multi-disciplinary, multi-institution engineering research centers in the United States funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

CASA focuses on the development of radar technology to permit earlier and more accurate forecasts of tornadoes, floods, and other severe weather which may improve weather forecasts and increase lead times. What is particularly unique about CASA is it end-to-end integration goal. Instead of developing the technology and making it available to users, CASA examines end user needs and takes into account user recommendations. CASA brings together social scientists from DRC with decision scientists, computer scientists, meteorologists, and radar engineers from universities across the United States. CASA is currently conducting research through the implementation of two proof-of-concept test beds, one in Oklahoma and a Student Led Test Bed in Puerto Rico. The goal is to advance an integrated multi-disciplinary perspective on remote sensing within which both natural and social factors are taken into account.  

DRC's role in CASA is currently focused on better understanding how the public responds to tornando and severe weather warnings. Towards this goal, Social scientists from the Disaster Research Center (DRC) at the University of Delaware developed a research study aimed at addressing public response.  Among other issues we explore: How is risk communicated and under what conditions is it interpreted correctly? What role does the false alarm rate (FAR) play in public response? What principles of group behavior can be applied to understand the decision to seek shelter or take protective action?  This CATI (Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing)-assisted project collects information from members of households near--if not in the path of--tornadoes about their awareness of warnings and their individual and collective behaviors immediately prior to the impact of the tornadoes.  The data will be used to go beyond describing the behaviors of populations and move towards explaining and predicting public response. Armed with predictive models of human behavior, our understanding of public response can be aligned more closely to the proposed decision-sciences framework and, consequently, can be more readily integrated with other end-user domains and CASA thrusts.  Thus far, over 1000 interviews have already been conducted on a sample of 18 tornado events during the 2008, 2009, and 2010 tornado seasons. Preliminary analyses have been produced and we are now developing complete analyses.

Study Related Publications

Rodriguez, Havidan, William Donner, Walter Diaz, and Jennifer Santos-Hernandez (2010) Emergency managers, allocation of radar resources, and policy implications: The intersection of weather hazards, population, and technology. Journal of Emergency Management. March/April 2010; pages 35-44

Bass, E.J., Baumgart, L.A., Philips, B., Kloesel, K., Dougherty, K., Rodríguez, H., Díaz, W., Donner, W., Santos, J., & Zink, M. (2009). Incorporating emergency management needs in the development of weather radar networks. Journal of Emergency Management, 7(1), 45-52.

Diaz, W., Mercado, A. Rodríguez, H., and Santos, J. (2007) “Exposición y Vulnerabilidad a las Marejadas Ciclónicas en Puerto Rico (Parte I). Marejada. Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 14-16.

Donner, W. (2005). "Decision Making as Community Adaptation: The Human Ecology of Emergency Management." University of Delaware, Disaster Research Center, Preliminary Paper No. 348.

Donner, W. (2007). "Decision Making as Community Adaptation: A Case Study of Emergency Managers in Oklahoma." Disasters.

Donner, W.( 2007). "The Political Ecology of Disaster: An Analysis of Factors Influencing U.S. Tornado Fatalities and Injuries, 1998-2000." Demography.

Donner, W. and Rodríguez, H. (2008). “Population Composition, Migration, and Inequality: The Influence of Demographic Changes on Disaster Risk and Vulnerability. Social Forces, Vol. 87, No. 2: 1089-1114.

Donner, W.R., Grainger, D., Rodriguez, H., Diaz, W., Santos, J. and Marks, D. (2005). “Rainfall Estimates or Tornado Detection?: An Assessment Based on the Needs if Emergency Managers.” University of Delaware, Disaster Research Center, Preliminary Paper No. 346.

Dynes, R. and Rodriguez, H. (2007). “Finding and Framing Katrina: The Social Construction of Disaster.” In Brunsma, D.L., Overfelt, D., and Picou, S.J. (Eds.). The Sociology of Katrina: Perspectives on a Modern Catastrophe. New York: Rowman & Littlefield, pp. 23-33.

Santos, J. Losing Everything: Undocumented Latino Workers and Hurricane Katrina. in Learning from Catastrophe: Quick Response Research in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Peer-Reviewed Special Publication #40. Natural Hazards Center. University of Colorado. Pp. 131-149.

Rodriguez, H. "The Role of Science, Technology, and the Media in the Communication of Risk and Warnings. In Risk and Crisis Communication: Building Trust and Explaining Complexities When Emergencies Arise"

Rodriguez, H. and Aguirre, B.E. (2006). “Hurricane Katrina and the Healthcare Infrastructure: A Focus on Disaster Preparedness, Response, and Resiliency.” Feature article in FRONTIERS of Health Services Management, Vol. 23, No. 1:13-24.

Rodriguez, H. and Marks, D. (2006). “Disasters, Vulnerability, and Governmental Response: Where (How) have we gone so wrong?” Corporate Finance Review, Vol. 10, No. 6:5-14.

Rodriguez, H. and Russell, C.N. (2006). “Understanding Disasters: Vulnerability, Sustainable Development, and Resiliency.” In Judith Blau and Keri Iyall-Smith (Eds.). Public Sociologies Reader. New York: Rowman & Littlefield, pages 193-211.

Rodríguez, H. Santos, J., Donner, B., and Diaz, W. (2007). “Science, Technology, and Disasters: Integrating End-User Needs.” Weather and Society Watch: A Publication of NCAR’s Societal Impacts Program. Volume 1, Number 4, pp. 4 & 9.

Rodríguez, H. “Practical Tips and Guidelines: Conducting Face-to-Face Interviews (and even Focus Groups).” (2005). University of Delaware, Disaster Research Center, Preliminary Paper No. 343.

Rodríguez, H., Diaz, W. Santos, J., and Aguirre, B. (2006). “Communicating Risk and Uncertainty: Science, Technology, and Disasters at the Crossroads.” In Rodriguez, H., Quarantelli, E.L., and Dynes, R. (Eds.). Handbook of Disaster Research. New York: Springer, pages 476-488.

Rodriguez, H., Diaz, W., Donner, W., Santos, J. and Marks. (2005). “Allocation of Radar Resources and Policy Implications: The End-User Community in Oklahoma.” University of Delaware, Disaster Research Center, Preliminary Paper No. 345.

Rodriguez, H., Trainor, J. and Quarantelli, E.L. (2006). “Rising to the Challenges of a Catastrophe: The Emergent and Pro-Social Behavior Following Hurricane Katrina.” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Special Issue: Shelter from the Storm: Repairing the National Emergency Management System after Hurricane Katrina. Vol. 604:82-101.

Santos-Hernandez, J., Rodriguez, H., and Diaz, W. (2008). Disaster Decision Support Tool (DDST): An Additional Step Towards Community Resilience. University of Puerto Rico Sea Grant College Program, UPRSG-H-203


Study Related Presentations

B. Philips, R. Krzysztofowicz, W. Donner, E. Bass, D. Pepyne, H. Rodriguez, W. Diaz, and K. A. Kloesel. Accepted. Designing an end-to-end decision model for CASA networks, Symposium on Linkages among Societal Benefits, Prediction Systems and Process Studies for 1–14-day Weather Forecasts, 88th American Meteorology Society Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA, January 24, 2008.

Donner, W., D. Grainger, H. Rodriguez, W. Diaz, J. Santos, and D.Marks. (Forthcoming 2008) "Rainfall Estimates or Tornado Detection?: An Assessment Based on the Needs of Emergency Managers" 88th American Meterological Society (AMS) Annual Meeting, 20-24 January, New Orelans, LA, Third Symposium on Policy and Socio-Economic Research.

Donner, W., H. Rodriguez, and W. Diaz. 2007. "Public Warning Response Following Tornadoes in New Orleans, LA, and Springfield, MO: A Sociological Analysis." Symposium on Policy and Socio-Economic Research CD-ROM, 87th Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society, San Antonio, Texas.

Santos-Hernandez, J. Miller, A. Gonzalez, M. Beaton, X. Ortiz, 2007: Vulnerability to Disasters in Puerto Rico: Incorporating the social, physical and built-environment to radar scanning strategies. 16th Conference in Applied Climatology. American Meteorological Society. San Antonio, TX. Jan 14-18, 2007.

Santos-Hernandez, J.,  and Rodriguez, H.(2008), "Critical Demography, Sociological Theory, and GIS: Social Vulnerability to Disasters in Puerto Rico." Presented at the American Sociological Association 2008 Annual Meeting. Boston, August 3, 2008.

Santos-Hernández, J. and Rodríguez, H (2009). “Improving Warning Systems: An Assessment of Public Response to Tornado Warnings during the 2008 Tornado Season.” Fourth Symposium on Policy and Socio-Economic Research, American Meteorological Society 89th Annual Meeting, January 11-15, 2009. Phoenix, AZ.

Philips, B, D. Pepyne, D. Westbrook, E. Bass, J. Brotzge, W. Diaz, K. Kloesel, J. Kurose, D. McLaughlin, H. Rodriguez, and M. Zink: 2007: "Integrating End User Needs into System Design and Operation: The Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA)" Preprint, 16th Conf. Applied Climatol., American Meterological Society Annual Meeting, San Antonio, TX.

Philips, B., Bass, E., Brotzge J., Chandresakar, V., Diaz, W., Kloesel, K., McLaughlin, D., Pepyne, D., Rodriguez, H., Westbrook, D., Zink, M. (2007). “Users, Impacts, and Radar Networks: The CASA Experience in Designing an End-to-End System.” Conference proceedings, invited speaker, International Symposium on X-band Weather Radar Networks, National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention, Tskuba, Japan, October 5, 2007.

Philips, B., Przybylinski, R., Brotzge, J., Rude, D.J., Diaz, W., Dolan, B., Bass, E. (2009) The leading edge: using CASA radars to detect lower troposphere winds in quasi-linear convective systems. American Meteorological Society, 13th Conference on Integrated Observing and Assimilation Systems for Atmosphere, Oceans, and Land Surface, Phoenix, AZ, January 11-15, 2009.

Rodríguez, H. and Santos, J.(2009) “Societal Impacts of Weather Hazards: Understanding Public Response to Tornado Events.” Fourth Symposium on Policy and Socio-Economic Research, American Meteorological Society 89th Annual Meeting, January 11-15, 2009. Phoenix, AZ.