Past Seminars Seminários Já Decorridos 2009

A statistical perspective on climate change

By: Susana Barbosa
From: IDL, Univ. Lisbon
At: Complexo Interdisciplinar, Anfiteatro
[2009-12-16] 12:00

The study of the Earth has been interrelated and closely linked with statistics since the beginning. Many developments in statistics and mathematics have been stimulated by geophysical problems, from the invention of harmonic analysis by Lord Kelvin for explaining ocean tides, to the development of autoregressive processes by Walker in the study of the Southern Oscillation and the development of nonlinear dynamics by Lorenz in the context of numerical weather prediction. In turn, statistics underpins the very notion of climate itself, and is fundamental in any climate analysis. In modern times and in the present global change context, the close association between statistics and geophysics is more relevant than ever.

In a global warming world, statistics plays a fundamental role in climate monitoring, assessment, and prediction. As before, earth science problems are pushing the frontiers of statistical knowledge and leading to new developments in statistics. Issues such as how to define trend in a time series of climate observations, how to assess the significance of trends in the case of time-dependent observations, or how to distinguish between trends and long range dependence in climate variables, are crucial in a climate change context. More than ever before, statistics is inescapably linked to the study of the Earth system. This fruitful and interdisciplinary interaction will be discussed, focusing on the analysis of climate records and assessment of the variability of the Earths climate.