On the use of Bayesian decision theory for issuing natural hazard warnings
Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series A, Mathematical and physical sciences
Open access article. © 2016 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
Warnings for natural hazards improve societal resilience and are a good example of decision-making under uncertainty. A warning system is only useful if well defined and thus understood by stakeholders. However, most operational warning systems are heuristic: not formally or transparently defined. Bayesian decision theory provides a framework for issuing warnings under uncertainty but has not been fully exploited. Here, a decision theoretic framework is proposed for hazard warnings. The framework allows any number of warning levels and future states of nature, and a mathematical model for constructing the necessary loss functions for both generic and specific end-users is described. The approach is illustrated using one-day ahead warnings of daily severe precipitation over the UK, and compared to the current decision tool used by the UK Met Office. A probability model is proposed to predict precipitation, given ensemble forecast information, and loss functions are constructed for two generic stakeholders: an end-user and a forecaster. Results show that the Met Office tool issues fewer high-level warnings compared with our system for the generic end-user, suggesting the former may not be suitable for risk averse end-users. In addition, raw ensemble forecasts are shown to be unreliable and result in higher losses from warnings.
This work was supported by the Natural Environment Research Council (Consortium on Risk in the Environment: Diagnostics, Integration, Benchmarking, Learning and Elicitation (CREDIBLE); grant no. NE/J017043/1).
This is the final version of the article. Available from the Royal Society via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 472 (2194), article 20160295