John C. & Susan S.G. Wierman Lecture @ JHU Homewood, Hodson Hall 210
Dec 6 @ 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm
Richard L. Smith:  Attribution of Extreme Climatic Events

Superstorm Sandy is merely the most recent high-impact weather event to raise concerns about extreme weather events becoming more frequent or more severe. Previous examples include the western European heatwave of 2003, the Russian heatwave and the Pakistan floods of 2010, and the Texas heatwave of 2011. However, it remains an open question to what extent such events may be ““attributed”” to human influences such as increasing greenhouse gases. One way to answer this question is to run climate models under two scenarios, one including all the anthropogenic forcing factors (in particular, greenhouse gases) while the other is run only including the natural forcings (e.g. solar fluctuations) or control runs with no forcings at all. Based on the climate model runs, probabilities of the extreme event of interest may be computed under both scenarios, followed by the risk ratio or the ““fraction of attributable risk””, which has become popular in the climatology community as a measure of the human influence on extreme events. This talk will discuss statistical approaches to these quantities, including the use of extreme value theory as a method of quantifying the risk of extreme events, and Bayesian hierarchical models for combining the results of different climate models. This is joint work with Xuan Li (UNC) and Michael Wehner (Lawrence Berkeley Lab). Event flyer.

“Complex Systems Science: Solving Complex Problems in a Complex World” Seminar @ Bloomberg School of Public Health Room W2008
Mar 19 @ 12:15 pm – 1:15 pm

Dr. Yaneer Bar-Yam is the founder and president of the New England Complex Systems Institute. He received his SB and PhD in physics from MIT in 1978 and 1984 respectively. His work explores the origins and impacts of market crashes, ethnic violence, military conflict and pandemics, analyzes social networks, as well as the bases of creativity, panics, evolution and altruism. His work on the causes of the global food crisis was cited as among the top 10 scientific discoveries of 2011 by Wired magazine. Dr. Bar-Yam has advised governments, NGOs, and corporations on using principles and insights from complex systems science to solve seemingly intractable problems. He is the author of two books: his textbook Dynamics of Complex Systems, which he has taught to over 2,000 graduate students, professionals and executives, and Making Things Work, which describes the use of complex systems science for solving problems in healthcare, education, systems engineering, international development, and ethnic conflict.

Center for Systems Science and Engineering