Collaborations key to IMAGe's 2012 Theme Of the Year

By Brian Bevirt
07/24/2012 - 12:00am

IMAGe's Theme Of the Year (TOY) is a series of activities that enrich both applied mathematics and the geosciences through collaborations on projects designed to build interdisciplinary communities. IMAGe is presenting two events in its 2012 TOY. The first was a 14–18 May workshop titled "Connections between Rotating, Stratified Turbulence and Climate: Theory, Observations, Experiments, and Models." The second will be held 6–17 August: "Uncertainty in Climate Change Research: An Integrated Approach."

Participants at the 14-18 May TOY workshop
Participants attending the turbulence workshop at CIRES on the CU campus in Boulder. More than half of the participants presented talks to the group during the week-long workshop. —Photo by Brian Bevirt, CISL

The 14–18 May workshop was co-hosted by IMAGe's Geophysical Turbulence Program and the University of Colorado's Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES). Sessions for the 82 participants (71 U.S., 11 international) were held at CU in Boulder. Presentations were given by 46 people from 31 institutions, and 8 people offered posters describing their research. The first group of talks was outreach to graduate students and postdocs that introduced the vocabulary and concepts of this inquiry into how turbulence in the oceans and atmosphere affect weather and climate. The second set of talks was aimed at early-career scientists and described the critical role of numerical simulation in turbulence research. The third round of talks was presented by senior researchers who are extending the frontiers of turbulence science. Much of this work is accomplished by collaborations between mathematicians and physicists, but it relies heavily on networking with climatologists and computational scientists. Sponsored by IMAGe and two NSF grants, 20% of the conference budget was dedicated to bringing young scientists to this event.

Organized by staff from IMAGe, the University of Newcastle (UK), and Penn State University, the 6–17 August workshop on climate change uncertainty has been filled with its maximum number of participants. Designed to address the gaps in ongoing efforts to integrate all facets of uncertainty in climate change, this workshop brings together participants from a wide variety of disciplines: statistics, climate modeling and analysis, climate impacts, decision making, policy, communication, and social science concerned with vulnerability to climate change. A central focus will be to understand the strands of uncertainty throughout the climate change problem to maximize effectiveness in any one area. The two-week workshop will present the major aspects of uncertainty characterization and quantification focused on decision-making. It will also address unquantifiable uncertainty: the uncertainties resulting from aspects of the climate system that are not modeled, or where we have incomplete knowledge, and how to incorporate this into quantitative efforts. Presentations by more than 30 speakers from over 20 institutions will be interleaved with discussion periods and small-group sessions aimed at developing research projects.

These yearly TOY programs integrate research and education and spark collaborations between mathematics communities, Earth System scientists, software engineers, and computer scientists. As universities try to fit computational science education and research into their existing academic structures, CISL – as an interdisciplinary education laboratory – finds and develops unique opportunities to catalyze directions for computational science education.