Calibrating human attention as indicator monitoring #drought in the twittersphere

Kelly Helm Smith, Andrew J. Tyre, Zhenghong Tang, Michael J. Hayes, F. Adnan Akyuz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


State climatologists and other expert drought observers have speculated about the value of monitoring Twitter for #drought and related hashtags. This study statistically examines the relationships between the rate of tweeting using #drought and related hashtags, within states, accounting for drought status and news coverage of drought. We collected and geolocated tweets, 2017-18, and used regression analysis and a diversity statistic to explain expected and identify unexpected volumes of tweets. This provides a quantifiable means to detect state-weeks with a volume of tweets that exceeds the upper limit of the prediction interval. To filter out instances where a high volume of tweets is related to the activities of one person or very few people, a diversity statistic was used to eliminate anomalous state-weeks where the diversity statistic did not exceed the 75th percentile of the range for that state's diversity statistic. Anomalous state-weeks in a few cases preceded the onset of drought but more often coincided with or lagged increases in drought. Tweets are both a means of sharing original experience and a means of discussing news and other recent events, and anomalous weeks occurred throughout the course of a drought, not just at the beginning. A sum-to-zero contrast coefficient for each state revealed a difference in the propensity of different states to tweet about drought, apparently reflecting recent and long-term experience in those states, and suggesting locales that would be most predisposed to drought policy innovation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E1801-E1819
JournalBulletin of the American Meteorological Society
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Calibrating human attention as indicator monitoring #drought in the twittersphere'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this