Navigating Mental Models of Risk and Uncertainty within the Ocean Forecast System: An Oregon Case Study

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  • This case study explores how to add value to regional ocean condition forecast information by bringing awareness to the processes that govern decision-making and outcomes within the system. A modified mental models research approach is applied to examine differences and similarities in perceptions of risk and comfort with uncertainty between two interdependent communities, the ocean “data provider” and “end user,” and how these perceptions impact accessibility and usefulness of data products. In this study, data providers are academic and agency scientists from institutions that provide ocean condition forecasts to public end users (n = 17). End users are members of the Oregon commercial-fishing community (n = 16). Comparisons reveal key differences and similarities related to the nature of each profession that impact perceptions of scale in time and space and reveal the ways that cumulative and intersecting risks and uncertainties act as key drivers in decision-making. Implications for expanding the current understanding of how ocean forecasts are produced and used include 1) highlighting the value of optimizing ocean forecast delivery tools based on end-user needs and information-seeking processes already in place, 2) identifying structural and cultural barriers within the data-provider network that prevent them from doing so, and 3) demonstrating the value of learning about both producers and users of scientific information and suggesting potential ways to structure cooperation and strengthen relationships between them by working toward a common desired outcome.
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  • Kuonen, J., F. Conway, and T. Strub, 2019: Navigating Mental Models of Risk and Uncertainty within the Ocean Forecast System: An Oregon Case Study. Wea. Climate Soc., 11, 431–447,
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  • 11
Journal Issue/Number
  • 2
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