Note: this article is part of a series on how Oregon State scientists are working to mitigate climate change. Read more: Warm Oceans need Cool Science (introduction), Informing Policy and Sustaining Resources.
In 2016, our planet reached the highest temperature on record for the third year in a row according to independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Analyzing big data to model our evolving future is mission critical in an era of potentially catastrophic global warming.
“Statistical analysis and data science are key to discoveries and innovation,” says Sastry G. Pantula, dean of the College of Science. New fields involved in big data like bioinformatics are often interdisciplinary and collaborative.
“Solving major complex issues …requires teams with a diversity of expertise across science, mathematics and statistics. An interdisciplinary cohort enhances depth in core areas, breadth of communication across various fields, and strength in statistical and computational skills,” adds Pantula. Scientists at Oregon State work with big data to tackle climate change on many fronts.
Big data for the next generation
Mathematician Juan M. Restrepo is Chair of the Focus Group on Climate in the American Physical Society. He works on improving weather and climate forecasts by combining data and weather models, and is presently focused on finding ways to compute statistics of rare and extreme weather events. Some of the methods developed in this line of research lead to adaptive ways to respond to disasters, such as flooding and hurricanes.