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Summer Graduate School

Mathematics of Climate Change July 12, 2010 - July 23, 2010
Location: The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Boulder, CO
Organizers Chris Jones (University of North Carolina and University of Warwick), Doug Nychka (National Center for Atmospheric Research), and Mary Lou Zeeman (Bowdoin College)
Description For more information, please see NCAR summer school page It is generally accepted in the scientific community that the world is undergoing a significant change in its climate. Mathematical models play a central role in climate change research. They are the basis for specific predictions of future changes and have been critical in elucidating the underlying physical processes. The involvement of mathematicians themselves in climate change research, however, has been modest and there is an opportunity for the mathematical sciences community to improve models for the Earth system in novel way. The goal of this summer graduate workshop is to introduce students to some of the central ideas and techniques of mathematical climate science and engage them in the process of uncovering the key mathematical problems of the area.
NCAR supports scientific research on nearly every aspect of the atmosphere and related components of the Earth’s physical and biological systems. This includes developing state-of-the- art climate models, high performance computing and also innovative ways of observing the atmosphere and oceans. The Center has approximately 1000 staff and is supported primarily by the National Science Foundation. Part of the NCAR mission is to engage students in the problems of understanding climate and weather and so provides an ideal context for this summer graduate workshop. The workshop is also part a larger program at NCAR through the Institute for Mathematics Applied to Geosciences: Mathematicians and Climate.

The first week of the workshop will be an organized program of lectures, attendant discussions and computer labs. Themes will be drawn from:

  • Introduction to climate issues and historical climate data;
  • Basic climate modeling: balance and box models;
  • Modeling climate process and their interactions;
  • Large climate models;
  • Mathematical techniques;
  • Prediction and uncertainty;
  • Time series analysis of data;
  • Data assimilation
During the second week, we will transition to a structure of independent student research projects, interwoven with organized lectures on useful topics. The projects will be computationally based and students will collaborate in teams and be guided by both early career and senior researchers.
The emphasis of these activities will be on developing ideas and codes for solving problems that offer insight into the key issues of climate science. Students will also be mentored in preparing written reports and presentations of their work. In addition to the research projects, students, faculty and NCAR scientists will form working groups to brainstorm on mathematical challenges in climate science. These working groups will provide an exciting opportunity for the students to be a part of a high-level effort to grapple with difficult questions and forge research directions that promise impact on both mathematical and climate change research.

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