Extreme Events: Developing a Research Agenda for the 21st Century

Appendix: Potential Extreme Events Research Topics Proposed at the Workshop

  • What are the changes in or interactions among the physical, social, and constructed systems that are reshaping each nation's hazardous future?

  • What have the been the losses from past disasters? How do past losses compare to current or future scenarios?

  • What are the criteria we use to evaluate disaster resiliency, environmental quality, intra- and intergenerational equity, quality of life, and economic vitality? How do we apply these criteria to the plans and programs of local/state/federal government and the public and nonprofit sectors that are designed to deal with extreme events?

  • How successful are hazard mitigation programs?

  • What are the benefits of catastrophes or risk-taking behavior?

  • How can we frame interdisciplinary research questions?

  • How are extreme events different in open vs. closed systems?

  • How can we measure the quality of decisions?
Workshop Overview

Integrated Summary

Workshop Participants

Other Workshop Attendees

Workshop Agenda

Workshop Logistics

Contributed Papers

Breakout Groups

Appendix: Research Topics

Workshop Proposal

Workshop Background
  • How is scientific information (including uncertainty) used in decision-making?

  • How can we construct policies that yield good decisions when used in decision-making?

  • What is the need for integrated research observations and information systems?

  • What strategies are needed for effective communication to achieve desired outcomes?

  • What are the interactions between war, social and economic collapse, and extreme events?

  • What are the interactions between internet-related extreme events and other extreme events?

  • Fund scientific placement in practical settings.

  • What are the equity effects of extreme events and extreme event policy?

  • What contextual factors contribute to framing, defining, and constructing extreme events?

  • What are the empirical consequences of actual predictions of extreme events?

  • How well do the "institutions of disaster" function?

  • What are the effects of extreme events on communities and civil society?

  • Who has the responsibility, liability with respect to extreme events? What does the distribution of risk look like? Who has the political authority?

  • How is extreme events-related knowledge diffused? What characteristics make it usable?

  • Why do people remain vulnerable to extreme events?

  • What makes complex, "mixed" systems resilient?

  • What are cost-effective and dependable means of protecting computational infrastructure without substantially decreasing its usability and its tremendous potential for economic progress?

  • What would be an effective information security policy?

  • What are the critical informational assets and vulnerable are they?

  • How do relationships between scientists and public officials affect reactions to extreme events?

  • How can we include human-related activities in long-term ecological research (LTERs)?

  • How can we frame information about extreme events for laypersons?

  • Strengthen social science research on communication among participant groups (intersubjectivity).

  • Systematically study and define extreme events, modes of measurement, and preventability.

  • Define, understand, model, and communicate risk vulnerability.

  • How do we manage risk and risk aversion? How do we manage perception?

  • What are the short- and long-term impacts of extreme events?

  • What are the root causes of more armed conflicts?

  • Is there a disconnect between producers and consumers of knowledge, and, if so, why?

  • What are the limits and possibilities of planning, prediction, and control of extreme events?

  • What is the value of folk knowledge?

  • What are people's perceptions in low-probability events?

  • Assess impacts of extreme events.

  • Assess assets of extreme events.

  • Assess vulnerabilities of extreme events.

  • What are the empirical effects of prediction?

  • What are the effects of overselling of predictions?

  • Investigate the limits of simplification?

  • Who wins and loses in disasters?

  • Investigate the impact of mitigation.

  • Identify high-leverage interventions.

  • Identify and understand instabilities.

  • Investigate decision heuristics.

  • Do classical science techniques explore extreme events?

  • What are the secondary impacts, ie, emotional health of extreme events?

  • What are the policy incentives/disincentives to mitigate extreme events?

  • Is human activity (development) increasing potential impact of extreme events?

  • Is there a trade-off between sustainability and tolerable level of risk?

  • What is the impact of high levels of consumption on extreme events?

  • What is the appropriate use of models (accuracy, precision, validation–only 1/3 of the problem)?

  • Are extreme events large versions of small events?

  • How are large scale events perceived differently than widespread/frequent smaller events?

  • How does the perception of an extreme event differ from reality?

  • What is the role of experience unmediated by science?

  • How do we handle the convergence of events/places/vulnerabilities?

  • How do we effectively build capacity to mitigate extreme events?

  • Find common terminology for defining extreme events.

  • How do we quantify the costs of extreme events?

  • Failures are splendid opportunities for learning; under what circumstances can we learn from extreme events?

  • What are the different types of extreme events and their frequencies and costs?

  • Find new ways of communicating more effective ways of addressing extreme events.

  • What are differences between natural and human-made extreme events?

  • How do we characterize the timing of extreme events (episodic vs. chronic)?

  • How do values impact extreme events?

  • How should resources be allocated (prevention, mitigation)?

  • Explore credibility/legitimation issues ("cry wolf," exaggerated claims)

[ Top of Page ]