CliMathNet: Mathematics for Climate Network

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: Engineering Computer Science and Maths

Abstract

The science of climate modelling and prediction has developed in the past twenty years to become a science where advances can directly and quickly influence international, national government and enterprise policy. While much of the progress in these aspects of climate science have been via a combination of improved earth observation, more powerful computers and better understanding of feedbacks in the earth system, mathematics and statistics have played an underpinning role in generating, solving and validating numerical models. It is an area of science where the UK has demonstrated leadership that goes from the development of numerical weather prediction to strong representation of UK science and scientists on the current Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), distinguished by a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

Mathematics and statistics have played a major role in many advances in climate modelling and prediction, and these contributions have been in both directions, for example, the seminal Lorenz (1963) model is continuing to have a great impact on the field of dynamical systems and their statistical properties and is still the model of choice for a simple nonlinear dynamical system. However, the Mathematical Sciences have often been seen as a toolbox rather than an equal partner with Climate Science. This division is institutionalized in the UK in a number of ways - core funding for Climate Science in the UK is from NERC, DECC and DEFRA while Mathematics and Statistics is seen as an EPSRC responsibility; even the more theoretical research is often based within Earth Science, Physics and/or Meteorology departments rather than Mathematics or Statistics; although one could identify "Mathematics for Earth Sciences" as an internationally successful cognate activity.

We believe that wider engagement with the Mathematical Sciences have the potential to contribute much more to answering the key questions (in particular understanding and reducing uncertainties in observation and prediction). By engaging a wide range of Mathematics and Statistics researchers on a number of scientific themes, CliMathNet aims to stimulate discussion and progress on these themes by entraining the expertise of mathematicians and statisticians.

Planned Impact

Academic impact: This network should have a lasting impact in integrating the climate modelling and prediction community much more closely with the mathematical sciences community. As an example, the recent (2nd) Review of the Tyndall Centre's Climate Research Unit chaired by Lord Oxburgh highlighted need for climate modellers to work more closely with professional statisticians: "We cannot help remarking that it is very surprising that research in an area that depends so heavily on statistical methods has not been carried out in close collaboration with professional statisticians. Indeed there would be mutual benefit if there were closer collaboration [with] a much wider scientific group outside the relatively small international circle of temperature specialists."

Societal impact: This network should have a lasting impact in a number of societal areas. This includes (a) the development of improved data and tools for policymaker by recognizing and reducing uncertainty. (b) Inspiring young researchers to engage with issues at the interface of mathematical sciences/climate science and by doing this to maintain UK leadership in these fields. (c) Public engagement, for example, by highlighting the international "Mathematics for Planet Earth" initiative during 2013.

Economic impact: The network should have a lasting impact in terms of developing new mathematical and statistical techniques that help to improve predictions and in turn make the UK's economy more resilient in the light of a changing environment. Engagement with the Tyndall Centre and with the Industrial Mathematics KTN will ensure that this impact is achieved.

Publications

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Ashwin P (2013) CliMathNet: Maths for Climate Network in Mathematics Today

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Boulton CA (2015) Slowing down of North Pacific climate variability and its implications for abrupt ecosystem change. in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

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Chapman S (2015) Limits to the quantification of local climate change in Environmental Research Letters

 
Description This grant has developed links between mathematics, statistics and climate science communities, aiming to ensure that the best mathematical and statistical methods are applied to policy-relevant questions in climate science. We have now launched and ongoing international network via a website and e-newsletter, and plan to run annual conferences devoted to this topic: see www.climathnet.org/
Exploitation Route The project aims to create an ongoing dialogue between mathematics and other disciplines concerning climate science that is relevant to the needs of commerce, industry and public policy.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Construction,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics,Environment,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Security and Diplomacy,Transport

URL http://www.climathnet.org/
 
Description The award has supporte a number of activites that have been communicating issues around the role of mathematics and statistics to general public, both to schools and in the media.
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Education,Energy,Environment,Other
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description Addressing knowledge gaps in climate science, in support of IPCC reports: TiPES; Tipping points in the Earth System
Amount € 8,561,000 (EUR)
Funding ID 820970 
Organisation European Commission H2020 
Sector Public
Country Belgium
Start 09/2019 
End 08/2023
 
Description ReCoVER: Research on Changes of Variability and Environmental Risk
Amount £510,723 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/M008495/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2015 
End 03/2018
 
Title Database of researchers in mathematics and climate 
Description Members of CliMathNet were invited to add themselves to a newsletter subscription on jiscmail to allow better linking up of research interests in this area. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Several members from the database have gone on to collaborate and indeed have been active in running further networks. 
URL https://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/cgi-bin/webadmin?A0=CLIMATHNET
 
Description ECMWF 
Organisation European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting ECMWF
Country European Union (EU) 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We assisted in ECMWF running a workshop on novel numerical methods for weather forecasting, in collaboration with CliMathNet.
Collaborator Contribution Members of ECMWF have attended and contributed to workshops and conferences, and the network.
Impact Multi-disciplinary, mathematics and meteorology.
Start Year 2012
 
Description Met Office 
Organisation Meteorological Office UK
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We have run a number of workshops and conferences that have enabled members of this partnership to gain access to ongoing research of relevance to the Met Office.
Collaborator Contribution Participation in conferences and workshops, membership of network, time to contribute to advisory board and policy meetings.
Impact Multi-disciplinary collaboration between mathematics, statistics, numerical weather prediction and climate science.
Start Year 2012
 
Description Tyndall Centre 
Organisation University of East Anglia
Department Tyndall Centre
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution ClMathNet has highlighted areas felt by Tyndall centre to be where scientific developments are needed for climate science.
Collaborator Contribution Participation in ClIMathNet eevntsand as part of advisory board.
Impact N/A
Start Year 2012
 
Description CliMathNet Virtual Outreach Conference 2016, Reaching out from Maths and Environmental Science: 21st June 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The purpose of this virtual meeting was to discuss how best to communicate climate, environmental and mathematical science to the public and other non-academic audiences. Through the use of examples of best practice, we aim to inspire and provide guidance on the delivery of effective outreach activities to:
a) Schools,
b) General public,
c) Policymakers,
d) Commercial / Industrial partners.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.climathnet.org/meetingsandevents/virtualoutreachconference2016/
 
Description CliMathNet conference 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The conference addressed emerging mathematical, computational and statistical techniques for understanding weather and climate. Areas of interest include: - Stochastic and deterministic modelling - Data/model fusion and assimilations - Prediction and Predictability - Climate variability and climate change - Understanding future from past climatic conditions - Extreme events and critical transitions - Model reduction techniques and parameterisation - Downscaling and post-processing - Geophysical turbulence - Statistical Mechanics of Climate - Numerical Models - High performance Computing. The conference featured a special session dedicated to showcasing relevant research outputs of some UK-based graduate schools. This event was a collaboration of CliMathNet (funded by ReCoVER), of the Centre for the Mathematics of Planet Earth of the University of Reading, and of the Mathematics of Planet Earth Centre for Doctoral Training.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.climathnet.org/2017conferencereading/
 
Description CliMathNet conferences 2013-2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation workshop facilitator
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact We organized this research conference in Exeter in July 2013, in Leeds in 2014 and in Bath in 2015.

The conference attracted 70-100 researchers of all career stages on the interface between mathematics, statistics and climate science. In addition to a range of scientific talks, the conference included a poster sessions and policy discussion sessions.

We received positive comments in the post-conference survey that we had brought together some communities that did not typically meet but that had a lot to benefit from each other. A particular example was the uncertainty quantification and data assimilation communities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014,2015
URL http://www.climathnet.org/
 
Description CliMathNet e-seminars 2013-2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Videoconference research seminars approx once per term. These occasional seminars cover a range of mathematical challenges and include seminar contributed by researchers on international networks such as MCRN.

We have engaged with researchers not just in the UK but also US.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014,2015
URL http://www.climathnet.org/forresearchers/seminars/
 
Description CliMathNet website 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact We have set up the site http://www.climathnet.org/ to link to the wider community and to publicise activites of the network.

CliMathNet has become a recognised and growing community where for example we are being asked to circulate not just research news but also requests from Government departments or research councils.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2013,2014,2015
URL http://www.climathnet.org/
 
Description Decision analysis for policy support in climate change adaptation and mitigation, 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact This workshop was held at Exeter on the 20th-21st April 2015. The workshop brought scientists from a broad spectrum of the climate community together with decision makers, policy advisors, and members of the statistical and decision analysis communities to faciliate research and knowledge transfer. There was a series of talks from each of the different communities focused on relevant existing tools for decision support, including description of different climate models, products and data as well as general methodology from decision analysis and talks from the user community. Breakout sessions were employed to encourage ideas for novel multi-disciplinary approaches to the provision of decision support and the development of policy support tools, both within the current constraints of the available models and processes generated for the IPCC cycle (for example, CMIP); and with an eye on more idealized or blue-sky frameworks specifically tailored to the requirements of policy makers.

To be confirmed / completed later.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Fourth Annual CliMathNet Conference, University of Exeter, 5th - 8th July 2016. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The conference provided a forum for mathematics and statistics applied to weather and climate science, including
The development of novel methodologies to paleoclimates;
Planetary system modelling;
Weather and climate forecasting, and;
Coupled social-environmental systems.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.climathnet.org/meetingsandevents/conference2016/
 
Description Non-equilibrium Dynamics of Climate: Linking models to data. 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact This workshop was held at Dartington Hall, from the 5th-7th January 2015. Understanding the earth's climate system poses many of the challenges that exist more widely in systems far from equilibrium. There are non-linear processes acting across a broad range of spatio-temporal scales, the system is driven and is far from equilibrium. In addition, we have only one realization of our (changing) climate and observational data is very limited. This workshop sought to bring some of the ideas and methodology of non-equilibrium dynamics to bear on understanding the dynamics and variability of climate events, extremes and the emergence of spatio-temporal correlations.

To be confirmed / completed later.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Statistics for Climate Science: A course for Principal Investigators 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact Statistics for Climate Science: A course for Principal Investigators, 18th September 2015. Council Chamber, Royal Statistical Society, London, UK. CliMathNet, the Royal Meteorological Society and the Royal Statistical Society jointly ran a small focused workshop on the use of statistical techniques for senior climate scientists. This course was aimed at climate scientists at the Principal Investigator level and included lectures and workshops on statistical modelling, inference, Bayesian methods and risk and uncertainty.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.climathnet.org/meetingsandevents/statsforpis2015/
 
Description The Role of Statistics in the Analysis of Climate Models, Conference Sesssion. 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact This session focused on the use of very large, complex non-linear models to analyse and predict the climate and explored the statistical analysis of such models and how statisticians can contribute to the climate debate. Topics covered include: climate prediction, data assimilation, model calibration and pattern scaling.

Presentations included:
Peter Challenor (Exeter): Introduction - a statistician's introduction to climate models;
Richard Chandler (UCL): Analysing Multi-model ensembles;
Richard Wilkinson (Nottingham): What drives the glacial-interglacial cycle? A Bayesian solution to a long standing model selection problem;
Peter Good (Met Office): Pattern Scaling;
Danny Williamson (Exeter): Earth system models and probabilistic Bayesian calibration: a screw meets a hammer?

< To be completed following receipt of delegate feedback >
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.rss.org.uk/RSS/Events/RSS_Conference/2015_Conference/RSS/Events/Conference/2015_conferenc...
 
Description mathMETics 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The mathMETics project is designed to demonstrate the role of mathematics in meteorology, by using mathematics lessons and activites to investigate weather observation and forecasting. The project was developed by Alexander Todd, under the supervision of Peter Ashwin and Christopher Ferro at the University of Exeter, as part of an EPSRC funded summer vacation project and the project CliMathNet. This website was produced by Alexander Todd and David Leppla-Weber. This project which demonstrates the role of mathematics in weather observation and forecasting in a variety of enjoyable and informative ways. The lesson plans and activities are designed to be delivered in mathematics lessons during National Science and Engineering Week 2014 to students in years 9 and 12.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015,2016
URL http://www.mathmetics.org/