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Climate Change and the Trillion-Dollar Millenium Mathematics Problem

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Date and time Oct 23, 2008
from 04:00 PM to 05:00 PM
Location McLennan Physics (MP) 102
Host Ted Shepherd

Tim Palmer

Abstract:

Oct23PalmerClimate change has been said to be the defining issue of our age, and reliable predictions of climate change are critical to guide policy on cutting emissions of greenhouse gases, and regional infrastructure investments for climate adaptation. But what are the scientific limitations to the accuracy of climate change predictions? For example, how about chaos theory? More importantly, I will discuss the implications of one of the millenium mathematics prize problems (see illustration), to this fundamental question in climate physics. I will conclude that there may indeed be an irreducible uncertainty in climate-change prediction which is best approached through the use of stochastic prognostic equations for the climate system. The development of stochastic climate models will be a significant paradigm shift for many existing climate prediction centres.

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