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Masters of UncertaintyWeather Forecasters and the Quest for Ground Truth$
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Phaedra Daipha

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226298542

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226298719.001.0001

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The Weather Prediction Enterprise

The Weather Prediction Enterprise

(p.24) One The Weather Prediction Enterprise
Masters of Uncertainty

Phaedra Daipha

University of Chicago Press

Centered on the unfolding and eventual closure of a recent, highly contentious operational transition at the NWS, this chapter introduces readers to the institutionalized environment in which NWS forecasters operate today, and to the operational philosophy, technologies, and identity politics through which its logic becomes articulated on the ground. The aim is to provide a balanced perspective on how institutional forces can, and cannot, structure decision-making in action. Attention is drawn to the typically invisible but profound role of technical standards and knowledge infrastructures for forging a community of practice. The argument is richly fleshed out through the experiences, practices, and points of view of meteorologists working at one forecasting office of the NWS.

Keywords:   history of meteorology, technological change, knowledge infrastructure, standardization, institutional logic, national digital forecast database, non-cooperation tactics, boundary work, scientific objectivity

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