Francisco de Melo Viríssimo will present the paper, ‘Predicting Climate Under Climate Change: Challenges and Perspectives’.


Climate change is widely seen as one of the biggest threats faced by our generation. Understanding climate change, however, is a matter of predicting the future. Central to this are Earth System Models (ESMs), which are complex, nonlinear, chaotic mathematical and computational representations of the planet’s “spheres” (e.g. atmosphere) and their interactions. Examples of ESMs are the Climate Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP), class of models, which underpin high-profile works such as the United Nations’ IPCC reports. However, ESMs are also intrinsically uncertain, making climate prediction a highly nontrivial task.

In this talk, I will review some of the challenges involved in climate prediction, including the design and interpretation of ESM ensembles. Particular attention will be given to the problems of identifying, understanding, and quantifying the possible sources of uncertainty, which is arguably one of the greatest obstacles to obtaining robust climate information that is also trustable by experts, users, and the wider society. I will then discuss in non-technical terms how I have been using mathematics to approach these problems, and ultimately to improve our understanding of how an ESM ensemble can be informative about the future climate.

This talk will be mostly self-contained and will be tailored to a non-expert audience, so anyone with an interest in the subject is welcome. This presentation includes joint work with Prof David A. Stainforth (LSE) and Dr Jochen Brocker (University of Reading), developed as part of the NERC-funded ODESSS project.

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