Speaker: Wayne Hayes, School of Information and Computer Science, University of California at Irvine
Title: Modeling the Apocalypse at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Climate change has become more than just an interesting scientific curiosity. It is becoming a matter of policy, and even a matter of global urgency. I will discuss both the scientific issues and how scientists today are working to better understand climate change in order to make informed policy recommendations.
The word "climate" essentially means "average weather", where weather means the minute-to-minute, hour-to-hour, day-to-day state of our atmosphere. Weather prediction aims to tell you whether or not you need to carry an umbrella today. Climate prediction aims to tell you whether or not you want to own ocean-front property over the next few decades. In this talk I will provide an historical perspective on both weather and climate modeling. Climate modeling can be of purely scientific interest, such as when we try to understand the Earth's climate history over millions of years in the past as observed in core samples drilled from the Earth's crust. It can also be of very practical interest, such as determining how fast the climate is changing today. Are the ice caps melting? How fast? If so, are we causing it, or is it natural? And if climate change is happening in a fashion that adversely affects us, should we care if it's human-caused or natural, or just aim to fix it for our own benefit?
Wayne Hayes was a PhD student in our department. He is now an Associate Professor at the University of California, Irvine, and also a visiting scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. His current research aims to help predict sea level rise over the next century using detailed models of the ice caps. His other research spans many areas including solar system dynamics, chaos, galaxy image analysis, protein structure, and the analysis of protein interaction networks.