Turning data into stories: climate change in space and time
with Dr. Kate Marvel from Columbia Center for Climate Systems Research and NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
ABSTRACT: Climate change means global warming: the average temperature of the planet has already increased by over 1 degree C since the Industrial Revolution. But large-scale averages are hard to grasp. To understand climate change, we need to know how it affects where people live during the course of their lives: the scales where stories happen. I'll show how research helps us sort through the enormous amount of climate data to reveal patterns underneath the global averages and long-term trends. This talk will focus on three specific stories. First, I'll show how we compare data from climate models to observations in order to understand "climate sensitivity", or the planet's eventual response to doubled carbon dioxide. The observations appear to show that the earth is far less sensitive to CO2 than the models. However, this story will illustrate the counterintuitive fact that when models and observations disagree, it is sometimes the observations (or our interpretation of them) that are incorrect. Second, I'll show how data helps us think about what this means: how increasing global temperatures affect aspects of our daily lives, and why we should care about global warming. Finally, I will show how twenty-first century methods like machine learning can help to identify new stories in old data, highlighting potential areas of collaboration between natural and social scientists. I will conclude by discussing how scientists can sift through big datasets to find compelling stories that drive positive change.
The Earth Science Colloquium Series, sponsored by Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and Columbia University Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences (DEES), provides a lively forum for discussing a wide variety of topics within the Earth sciences and related fields. Colloquia are attended by the full range of scientific and technical staff at LDEO. Colloquium attendance is required of all pre-orals DEES graduate students. The Colloquium Series supports the Lamont Seminar Diversity Initiative.