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National Institute for Applied Statistics Research Australia Seminar Series

October 17, 2019 @ 1:30 pm - 2:25 pm

Climate-change research in UOW’s Centre for Environmental Informatics

As part of the UOW’s Global Climate Change Week, this seminar consists of three 15-minute talks. It is suitable for second-year (and beyond) university students and researchers who would like to know more about statistical inference for our changing climate.


TALK 1: What drives Australian rainfall, and how is it changing?

Speaker: Michael Bertolacci

Abstract: Australia is the world’s driest inhabited continent and is subject to highly variable rainfall patterns. These patterns have an enormous impact on human activity, and it is important to study how they vary over time and space, what global indicators influence them, and how they are changing. In this talk I will present a large data set of 294 million daily rainfall measurements since 1876, spanning 17,606 sites across continental Australia. Daily rainfall is tricky to analyse because most of the measurements are zero. I will briefly describe the statistical and computational techniques used to address the zeros and other challenges, and talk about what we’ve learned about the past and future of Australian rainfall.


TALK 2: A statistical model to assess Antarctica’s contribution to sea-level rise

Speaker: Andrew Zammit Mangion

Abstract: The most recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts an approximate 50cm global mean sea level rise by the year 2100. The biggest potential contribution to this rise is from melting of the  grounded ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland.  In this presentation I will briefly discuss statistical techniques that can be used to compile a vast range of satellite data, ground-station data, and numerical models, to assess the contemporary contribution of the Antarctic ice sheet. We show that Antarctica has been losing mass at a rate of 84 ± 22 gigatons per year between the years 2003 and 2013, while West Antarctica has been losing mass at a rate of 112 ± 10 gigatons per year. This rate of mass loss can be expected to increase in the future with rising ocean and atmospheric temperatures.


TALK 3: The sensitivity of future surface temperature to atmospheric CO2 is changing  ̶  rapidly

Speaker: Noel Cressie (and Bohai Zhang)

Abstract: From the original paper by Svante Arrhenius in 1896 followed by a number of UN IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) reports, there is overwhelming evidence that increases in atmospheric greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2), are leading to climate change. As a result, 196 state parties signed the COP 21 Agreement in Paris in December 2015; for example, Australia signed on to decrease its emissions of CO2-equivalent in the range of 26%  ̶  28% by 2030. In this talk, the global surface temperature response to past values of global CO2 will be studied using data from 1959 onwards. Here we concentrate on fitting statistical models and validating them according to their ability to forecast global surface temperature. The model that we chose according to statistical criteria validates well until the recent past, when the temperature response appears to have moved rapidly into a more critical state.