Special Call 3: Tornado Ready Quick Response Research

Proposal Q&A Session

Learn more about this funding opportunity by watching the recorded SSEER Virtual Forum here!

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is the primary authority for issuing official weather forecasts and warnings for life threatening hazards in the United States. When extreme events—such as tornados—threaten communities, it is paramount that researchers ethically collect perishable data before, during, and immediately following the disaster to ensure that vital information is not lost. In turn, providing quick response research findings to decision-makers at NOAA can help improve operational forecasts and warnings and reduce deaths, injuries, and property damage.

While NOAA is taking major steps towards building a Weather Ready Nation, the agency cannot do this work alone. With this in mind, the Natural Hazards Center (NHC)—with support from the National Science Foundation and the NOAA Weather Program Office, in partnership with the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) and the National Weather Service (NWS)—is issuing a special call for proposals for Tornado Ready Quick Response Research in the social, behavioral, and economic sciences.

Specifically, this special call—which is part of the Weather Ready Research Award Program—will advance novel quick response research that uses the NOAA Tornado Post-Event Survey to identify how community members receive, interpret, and respond to tornado watch and warning messages. This is also an opportunity to conduct new research on tornado impacts.

Available funds will support 10 to 20 awards in the amount of $1,000 to $7,500 each. Smaller award amounts will be dedicated to single discipline and/or smaller-scale projects whereas larger award amounts will be reserved for social science-led interdisciplinary teams engaged in problem-focused and solutions-based convergence research.


Proposals will be accepted on a rolling basis from December 28, 2021 through October 31, 2022


Proposal reviews will begin on January 3, 2022 and will continue throughout the funding period. The final Weather Ready Quick Response Research Report and Data Publication Checklist are due no later than six months following award activation.

Successful proposals will clearly outline implications for understanding and improving tornado communication in the United States. To that end, proposals must make data that is collected with the NOAA survey instrument publicly available on the National Science Foundation-supported DesignSafe Cyberinfrastructure and include a plan to return results to relevant stakeholders and to advance weather communications research that is culturally relevant, ethically informed, and scientifically rigorous.

Award Details in Brief

All prospective applicants are encouraged to watch the recorded Social Science Extreme Events Research (SSEER) Virtual Forum which discusses this special call in more detail.

  • Available funds will support 10 to 20 awards in the amount of $1,000 to $7,500 each.
  • Proposals should be 5 single-spaced pages and also must include a separate reference list and budget and budget justification.
  • Proposals will be accepted on a rolling basis between December 28, 2021 and October 31, 2022.
  • Quick Response Proposals cannot be submitted until after a tornado occurs. However, we highly recommend drafting a proposal ahead of time and getting pre-approval from your Institutional Review Board so that you can submit materials and get into the field quickly to collect perishable data. Investigations cannot be launched until human subjects approval is sent to the Natural Hazards Center.
  • Proposals must include the use of the NOAA Tornado Post-Event Survey.
  • Awardees are required to administer the survey within 60 days of a tornado.
  • Award funds will be disbursed upon completion of required paperwork, as described below, and funded activities may not commence until human subjects approval has been verified. Given the accelerated timeline, quick response fieldwork may need to begin before payment is received.
  • Final Weather Ready Research Reports and Data Publication Checklists are due within six months of proposal activation.

Focus Areas

NOAA Tornado Post-Event Survey

Investigators must download and administer this NOAA Tornado Post-Event Survey as a requirement of this award.

NOAA has recently created a Tornado Post-Event Survey, to collect data focused on tornado watch and warning communications from the NWS. The primary focus of this call for proposals is to bring this survey into the field to capture how diverse members of the public receive, interpret, and respond to NWS communications and warnings. Awardees are required to administer the survey within 60 days of a tornado.

In addition to administering the Tornado Post-Event Survey, writing the final report, and publishing the data collected with the NOAA survey, we welcome projects that expand on the baseline survey to cover a variety of additional topics and data collection strategies, including, but not limited to the following:

  • Develop and test methodologies that systematically collect data on end users, such as emergency managers, operational forecasters, broadcast meteorologists, different demographic groups in the general public, and other weather and water decision makers, as related to tornadic events.
  • Identify, develop, and test methods that measure the effectiveness of Impact-Based Decision Support Services (e.g., information related to timing, uncertainty, severity, and/or lead times for tornadic and/or multi hazard tornadic events (e.g. tornados and flash floods), technology (e.g., formats, interactivity), and tools (e.g., graphics, interactive displays, apps).
  • Identify, develop, and test methods that measure how the public receives, interprets, perceives, and responds to weather information, especially warnings, with respect to protective action decision making.
  • Identify, develop, and test methodologies to assess and understand the needs, vulnerabilities, and challenges of historically underserved and/or socially vulnerable communities with respect to tornadic and/or multi-hazard tornadic events (e.g., tornadoes and flash floods).
  • Increase understanding of how members of the public perceive two or more types of uncertainty as it relates to the communication of tornadoes with other hazards. Specifically, this may include uncertainty of more than one hazard, such as a tornado vs. a flash flooding event, or between more than one variable, such as the temporal vs. spatial uncertainty of a tornado.
  • Further develop the theoretical advancement of how scales, indices, categories, and risk and/or severity levels impact public perceptions of tornadic and/or multi-hazard tornadic risk and uncertainty.
  • Conduct economic valuation studies to estimate the benefits of tornado watch and warning improvements and/or perform economic evaluation studies to assess the benefits of reducing service equity gaps to historically underserved and/or socially vulnerable communities.

Proposal Submission

  • Project Title: Limit 12 words.
  • Investigator Name(s) and Affiliation(s)
  • Full Abstract: Limit 500 words.
  • Brief Abstract: Limit 100 words. To be posted on the Natural Hazards Center website. See examples of this brief format here.
  • 3-5 Keywords
  • Focus Area: Proposals must include the use of the NOAA Tornado Post-Event Survey and also may include other areas as described above.
  • Timescale: Proposals must focus on tornado research occurring within 60 days of a potential tornado event, including: (1) tornado events that are warned for but do not occur, (2) events where a tornado occurs without an official warning, and (3) events where a tornado occurs and there is a warning. Additionally, populations included in the sample can include those in a warned area (if applicable), with a preference for those affected directly by the tornado, those living near (within 15 miles of) a tornado’s path, and/or in a community that has been affected by a tornado. The research plan can expand on the initial quick response survey data collection to ask additional questions, expand the methodology, and extend the timeline as needed.
  • Geographic Focus: Proposals must focus on a tornado occurring in the United States, including a U.S. territory or tribal area.
  • Disciplinary Focus: A 250-word statement indicating whether the proposal involves a single discipline or is interdisciplinary in nature. Note that single discipline proposals are eligible for awards in the $1,000 to $2,500 range, while researchers seeking funding up to the $7,500 level must demonstrate how the research is interdisciplinary and advancing convergence research that is interdisciplinary in scope, problem-focused, and solutions-based. Note that all proposals, regardless of funding range, must be led by a researcher in the social, behavioral, or economic sciences. Collaborators from other disciplines are welcome.
  • Proposal: The proposal should be uploaded as a PDF and use the headings for each section listed below. The proposal should be a maximum of 5 single-spaced pages and include the following content:
    • A brief statement on Intellectual Merit—describing the potential of the proposed activity to advance knowledge—and Broader Impacts—describing the potential of the proposed activity to benefit society and/or weather forecasting and communication practices.
    • Research Question(s)
    • Literature Review: This should demonstrate the authors’ knowledge of the area of research being proposed as well as state the gaps that this study will fill.
    • Study Design: This should include the data collection plan; study location(s); sample overview including participant demographic information, sampling strategy, and expected number of participants; plan for partnering with local agencies or organizations; procedures, measures, data analysis plan; a project timeline; and whether in addition to the collection of perishable data, the project involves the analysis of primary or secondary data and/or the evaluation of existing tools or other resources. All applicants are strongly encouraged to complete the CONVERGE Collecting and Sharing Perishable Data Training Module.
    • Ethics Statement: This should describe how the investigator(s) will ensure the ethical conduct of research for the benefit of the communities where they work. All applicants are strongly encouraged to complete the CONVERGE Broader Ethical Considerations Training Module in preparation for writing this statement.
    • Data Management and Publication Plan: A brief plan for managing data as well as publishing data on DesignSafe prior to submitting the final report.
    • Dissemination Plan: A plan for returning data and/or results to NOAA officials, locally-affected people, stakeholders, and/or communities no later than the project end date.
  • References: The list of references should be complete and consistently formatted in APA 7th edition style. The reference list is not included in the 5-page limit for the proposal and there is no page limit for the reference list.
  • Budget and Budget Justification: Proposals must include a separate budget and budget justification (no longer than 500 words in length). These materials do not count toward the 5-page limit for the proposal. The budget and budget justification should provide a clear breakdown of anticipated expenditures within the predetermined budget range (in this case, $1,000 to $7,500). Applicants should note that:
    • Proposals over $7,500 will be returned without review.
    • Funding should be used for expenses associated with the proposed project. Funds may be dedicated to, for example, fieldwork expenses, the purchase of research equipment or datasets (please consider exploring equipment options available through the NSF-supported RAPID facility before making requests), payments to data collectors, methodologists, statisticians, or other collaborators, payments for translators or other team members, participant compensation, and/or dissemination activities including for conference travel or registration expenses.
    • Please carefully read the “How the Funding Will Be Issued” statement included below, as it provides details for how many investigators can be included in the budget and clarifies how and when the award funds will be issued.
    • Overhead and indirect costs are not allowed.
    • Award recipients are responsible for all personal tax-related expenses associated with accepting award payments. These potential tax obligations cannot be included in the project budget.
  • Supporting Documents for Students: Master’s and PhD students are welcome to apply for this special call for funding. If a student is listed as the lead investigator they will need to submit:
    • A statement explaining qualifications and ability to implement the proposed methods, a plan for managing a project team (if applicable), and a timeline for completing the proposed work during their degree program.
    • A letter of support from an academic advisor or committee member.
  • Human Subjects Approval Letter: An official letter from the applicant’s human subjects committee approving the research, or waiving the need for approval, will be required before an award is activated and funds are released. The proposal may be submitted before human subjects committee approval is obtained, but we recommend that human subjects approval be sought as early as possible given the relatively short 60-day timeline from the tornado event to the completion of data collection activities. Please see the following article for additional guidance on receiving Institutional Review Board pre-approval for disaster research. If a human subjects committee approval letter is not sent with your proposal, please include a short statement about your plans for meeting this requirement. Data collection may not begin until a letter of approval or waiver from a university is submitted to the Natural Hazards Center.

The above information and associated documents must be submitted through the Natural Hazards Center online proposal submission form. Emailed proposals will be returned without review.

Post-Award Project Deliverables and Recommendations

Data Publication Checklist

Award recipients should fill out and return a Data Publication Checklist within six months of award activation.

In addition to the above proposal requirements, the lead investigator is required to do the following:

  • Review and download the Natural Hazards Center report template and style guide.
  • Submit a final report of up to 20 double-spaced pages that summarize project activities and results from this special funding call. The first draft report is due within six months of award activation. The Natural Hazards Center will professionally edit each report. If successfully reviewed and accepted, the report will be included in an edited compilation of Weather Ready Research Reports to be published on the Natural Hazards Website.
  • Publish NOAA Tornado Post-Event Survey data on DesignSafe and submit a Data Publication Checklist with your final report.

In addition to the above proposal requirements, it is recommended that all award recipients—including the lead investigator and any collaborators—do the following:

How the Funding Will Be Issued

The lead investigator, as designated in the proposal, must be from an academic institution based in the United States. Other co-leads, project assistants, or local collaborators do not have to be affiliated with a university or located in the U.S.—these additional individuals cannot, however, serve as the project lead and primary award recipient. All applicants are encouraged to collaborate with the larger community of scholars; weather, water, and climate enterprise practitioners; and community leaders in various study locations to leverage existing resources and advance ongoing activities.

Award funding will be provided to the lead investigator and/or co-leads, project assistants, or other local collaborators. Once the steps below are completed, these payments will be sent directly to the award recipients as designated in the budget to cover project-related expenses or time dedicated to data collection, analysis efforts, or the dissemination of results.

The funding can be distributed across team members as designated by the lead investigator (for example, 50% of the award sent to the lead, 25% to the co-lead, and 25% to a local collaborator). No more than five recipients can be designated for any one award.

Award funding will be processed after proposals are accepted and awards are announced. To receive the award funding, the designated recipients will need to return:

  • One copy of a completed and signed funding agreement, to be issued upon approval to designated recipients of the award funds. The information for payees will be filled out on the form.
  • A W-9 or W-8BEN for all payment recipients (W-9 is for U.S. citizens or permanent residents; W-8BEN is for non-U.S. citizens).
  • A letter of approval or exemption from a university based Institutional Review Board.

Once the award has been activated and the award agreement, tax forms, and IRB approval has been submitted to the Natural Hazards Center, researchers may begin fieldwork. Please note that expenses may need to be paid out of pocket if fieldwork begins prior to receiving payment to meet the 60 day deadline for administering the survey.

This award funding will NOT be sent directly to a university or other institutions, and there are no indirect costs associated with these funds. These payments will be made to an individual or individuals and then distributed or applied to project-related expenses as decided by the lead investigators. The recipients of these awards will be solely responsible for all tax reporting and ramifications.

Please note, for award recipients who are non-U.S. citizens, the payment process may take longer and will require additional paperwork. All payments made to visa holders are submitted through the International Tax Office at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Questions?

Please contact Jennifer Tobin at haz.research.awards@colorado.edu.


Acknowledgements

The Weather Ready Research Award program is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF Award #1635593) through supplemental funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Program Office. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of NSF, NOAA, or the Natural Hazards Center.