Welcome to the MPE2013 Blog! During the coming year we intend to bring you information about the themes of MPE2013: mathematics (including statistics), climate, sustainability and the state of the planet. Some posts will report news items of general interest, or draw attention to special events taking place in the framework of MPE2013. Other posts will address relevant educational issues, or present personal thoughts about mathematics and our understanding of the environment. And, yes, we hope that there will be some provocative posts that will promote discussion and generate new ideas.
Let me move on to the second item in the title of this blog. On Christmas Eve, The New York Times featured an article on Antarctica that caught my attention,“Antarctic Warming is Speeding Up, Study Finds.” The article was based on a paper released the previous day in the journal Nature Geoscience claiming that West Antarctica has warmed by 4.4 degrees Fahrenheit since 1958. If confirmed, this is shocking news. The Antarctic ice sheet is one of the best indicators of changes in the global climate system. It is already under attack at the edges by warmer ocean water, and a potential collapse of the ice sheet is one of the long-term hazards of global warming. We know relatively little about the Antarctic ice sheet. The place is not very friendly to visitors, and scientific observations are few and far between. But mathematicians have been and continue to be involved in efforts to get a better understanding of the Antarctic ice sheet and surrounding sea ice. This brings me to the third term in the title of this blog.
On Saturday, January 12, Professor Ken Golden of the Department of Mathematics at the University of Utah, will give the Porter Lecture at the Joint Mathematics Meeting in San Diego, California. Ken is an expert on the mathematical modeling of composite materials and has been working on ice sheets, sea ice and melt ponds for several years. Not just from behind his desk, but out in the cold, both in the Arctic and in Antarctica. Several of his graduate, as well as undergraduate students have had the good fortune to join Ken on these expeditions. What better role model for aspiring mathematicians! Ken is an enthusiastic speaker, and I am looking forward to his lecture about “The Melting of Polar Ice Caps.” The lecture will be videotaped and made available for later use.
Hans G. Kaper
Co-director, Mathematics and Climate Research Network