IMAGe Theme-of-the-Year Program (TOY)

The Theme-of-the-Year is a year-long focus on some aspect of applied mathematics and the geosciences, designed to advance research and education between the mathematical and the geoscience communities. Typically TOY sponsors a series of workshops or schools along with a visitor program, coordinates with NCAR science groups and partners with other mathematics institutes.
The topics are selected by the IMAGe external advisory panel and coordinated by one or more Visiting Co-director(s).

Propose a future Theme-of-the-Year

TOY 2010: Mathematicians and Climate.


Chris Jones (University of North Carolina), Hans G. Kaper (Argonne National Laboratory), Mary Lou Zeeman (Bowdoin College)

Climate change research is about the future. The driving force is our need to understand what will happen to our planet, be it in terms of predicting climate changes or their societal impacts. For essentially every question asked, a mathematical model is the vehicle for extrapolating into the future. It is then essential that the mathematics community be involved and more mathematicians are brought into climate change research. This program will use NCAR scientists and facilities as a hub to engage mathematical scientists in substantial problems in climate research.

This Theme-of-the-Year is in partnership with the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) with the primary activities being two synthetic workshops and capped by a summer school. This program leverages the deep and long-standing ties of MSRI to the mathematics community to involve mathematicians with a broad range of interests and who have the potential to bring a valuable perspective on climate modeling. Along with the workshops and summer school there will be a series of targeted visits by mathematical scientists to collaborate on specific areas with climate scientists.

Major activities

  • Mathematics of Interacting Climate Processes, February 11 - 13

    Many processes are relevant to climate change. Moreover, they are, in many cases, not well modeled or understood. Mathematical investigations can have an enormous impact in increasing our understanding of these processes and their interactions. These include: the carbon cycle on geological and biological time scales, sea-ice structure and mechanics, ocean circulation, glacier melting, cloud formation, and extreme weather, such as hurricanes, tornadoes and flooding.

  • Data Assimilation and Climate Research, June 23-25

    Although climate prediction does not incorporate data in the same sequential manner as weather forecasting, the role of data is critical in many respects. This includes initializing models with the estimate of current conditions and comparing simulated climate to long-term collections of observations. An emerging area is the use of data assimilation to scrutinize the climate processes in a model using observations on shorter time scales.

  • Mathematics of Climate Change Summer School, July 12-23

    Approximately 40 graduate students from the mathematical and geosciences will attend a program of lectures that provide both the mathematical and geophysical context for studying climate. Students will spend the second week participating on specific projects including dynamical systems, combining geophysical models and observations and synthesizing large observational data sets.

Other Activities

2010 SIAM Meeting
Sponsored the Mathematics and Climate Minisymposium, MS106