Leonard Smith and Erica Thompson: Doing Science in the Dark: The Challenges of Climate-Like Science
October 29, 2014, 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Climate prediction and weather prediction are very different: due to constant refinements and new techniques, the life time of a climate model is much less than the forecast we ask it to make, whereas the same weather model can be used to forecast tomorrow’s weather, day after day, for months if not years — allowing us to learn from our mistakes. By contrast, climate science is continually exploring new territory, using new and unproven techniques. The challenges of doing science partly in the dark, past successes and failures, and many examples will be discussed. No background knowledge of climate, weather or maths will be assumed.
Leonard Smith is the Director of the Centre for the Analysis of Time Series (CATS) and Research Professor in the Department of Statistics at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Professor Smith has been developing, within CATS, a coherent framework for using imperfect models to better understand and predict real dynamical systems. This has involved working with operational weather models of the European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts, the UK Met Office, the US National Centres for Environmental Prediction and the US Naval Research Laboratory’s NOGAPS system. He is also involved in developing methods of experimental design for climate-like applications based within the framework of Indistinguishable States. He is currently working on the experimental design for the EU ENSEMBLES project and the analysis of data from the DEMETER project.
Read more about Leonard Smith.
Erica Thompson is a Research Officer at CATS. Her interests focus on how to identify meaningful and useful projections of future climate, how different types of model output can be used to inform these projections, and how to think about uncertainty. She looked at some of these questions in the context of North Atlantic storms for her PhD at Imperial College. Her background is in the physical sciences, having studied physics and mathematics at Cambridge University. Erica has also worked for the UK Energy Research Centre on an assessment of global oil depletion and for the Grantham Institute at Imperial College as a research assistant in climate policy; she is also interested in climate and energy policy and the role of scientific advice in policy-making.