Societal and Economic Research and Applications (SERA) Workshop 2015

12-13 March 2015, Ottawa, Canada.

(Brian Mills & Jackie Dawson)

The inaugural organizing meeting of the Societal and Economic Research and Applications (SERA) Sub-committee of the Polar Prediction Project (PPP) was held at the Faculty of Arts, University of Ottawa, in Ottawa, Canada from 12-13 March 2015.

Translating science success into societal value

The PPP mission entails achieving an improved understanding, characterization and modelling of atmospheric, oceanic, and land surface processes. It also acknowledges the parallel challenge of translating scientific success into societal value, both within and outside of polar regions, and this is reflected in the first of 8 goals defined in the PPP Implementation Plan:

Improve the understanding of the requirements for, and evaluate the benefits of enhanced prediction information and services in polar regions

Meeting this goal requires the application of social and interdisciplinary science to better understand weather-related decision-making, communication, and social processes that underpin actions and behaviour, and to improve methods to evaluate impact and measure social and economic value across a wide spectrum of potential user communities and cultural, social, political, economic and geographic contexts.

Dialogue between social and interdisciplinary scientists

Towards this end, the inaugural meeting of PPP-SERA was convened to begin an important dialogue about the Project with social and interdisciplinary scientists who are actively engaged in polar research related to weather, climate change, sea ice, and other environmental change issues. Specific meeting objectives included: 

  1. Informing people about the Polar Prediction Project (PPP) and opportunities for collaboration;
  2. Presenting and discussing participants' current and planned research that may relate to PPP;
  3. Reviewing, critiquing and suggesting improvements to elements of the PPP documented in the current Science and Implementation Plans;
  4. Soliciting interest in forming both a small, formal SERA sub-committee within the organizational structure of PPP, and a broader network that could contribute at the project level of activity; and
  5. Preparing and submitting a report to the PPP Steering Committee on the results of the meeting and recommendations.

Definition of research connections, upcoming meetings and key resources

Following an overview and discussion of the PPP, participants representing several disciplines (human geography, meteorology, sociology, other natural or environmental sciences) and application or thematic study areas (Indigenous and local knowledge, shipping, tourism and recreation) shared relevant findings from their research. Subsequent discussions were used to deliberate important research questions and topics; begin brainstorming a lists of actors for one important theme area (polar shipping and marine transportation); and start to define valuable research connections, upcoming meetings and key resources necessary for PPP-SERA to flourish.

Draft plan of action

An initial draft plan of action for PPP-SERA was developed to chart three phases of initial activity: Framing, Co-creation, and Integration. Many of the early efforts and tasks defined in the Framing Phase will serve to identify and prioritize specific SERA elements for YOPP. 

Immediate next steps include formal recognition of the PPP-SERA at the Steering Group meeting, preparations for the YOPP Summit (July 2015), further development and advancement of the draft Action Plan, and planning for a second meeting and writing session (early 2016).

Downloads - Meeting report and presentations: