In­te­gra­tion of Math­e­mat­ics to pro­tect Mother Earth

Panay News - - METRO - By May Jean A. Marcelo, SST-III, Este­fa­nia Mon­temayor Na­tional High School, Du­marao, Capiz

WE HAVE known al­ready that Math is very much es­sen­tial in daily life. One can gain much com­fort when pro­fi­cient in Math. But with what is hap­pen­ing to Mother Earth, can Math not be one of the con­tribut­ing fac­tors? And can Math also help pro­tect Mother Earth? How is Math­e­mat­ics in­te­grated in pro­tect­ing Mother Earth?

From me­te­o­rol­ogy to eco­nomics, a wealth of sci­en­tific re­search is nec­es­sary to im­prove our un­der­stand­ing of cli­mate change, its im­pacts and what we can do to pre­pare for them. Scratch be­neath the sur­face and you’ll find math­e­ma­ti­cians do­ing their bit to save the planet in a mul­ti­tude of ways:

(1) De­sign­ing bet­ter weather fore­casts and cli­mate mod­els – Ac­cu­rate weather fore­casts pre­dict when and where ex­treme weather may strike, whilst cli­mate pro­jec­tions are keys to iden­ti­fy­ing weather pat­terns chang­ing on a longer time scale. Our abil­ity to pre­dict weather and cli­mate has ad­vanced in leaps and bounds in the last few decades, thanks to math.

Mod­ern weather fore­casts rely on com­put­ers to solve the com­plex equa­tions that sim­u­late the at­mos­phere’s be­hav­ior – from global pro­cesses that in­flu­ence the flow of the jet stream down to lo­cal rain clouds. Math­e­ma­ti­cians play an im­por­tant role in this process, work­ing with a set of equa­tions that de­scribe the at­mos­phere, tak­ing into ac­count tem­per­a­ture, pres­sure and hu­mid­ity.

Global Cir­cu­la­tion Mod­els (GCMs) de­scribe the in­ter­ac­tions be­tween oceans and at­mos­phere to look at what the av­er­age con­di­tions could be in decades to come.

(2) Mak­ing the most of re­new­able en­ergy sources – Op­ti­miz­ing the lay­out of wind tur­bines en­ables them to har­vest more en­ergy. Re­new­able en­ergy sources lie at the heart of a low-car­bon world.

By choos­ing op­ti­mal lo­ca­tions for wind or so­lar farms and de­sign­ing the most ef­fec­tive lay­outs for tidal and wind tur­bine ar­rays, math­e­ma­ti­cians

en­sure that these tech­nolo­gies har­vest the max­i­mum en­ergy as ef­fi­ciently as pos­si­ble.

Math­e­ma­ti­cians con­trib­ute to re­search into en­ergy sup­ply and de­mand that en­sures net­works in­cor­po­rate higher pro­por­tions of weath­erde­pen­dent en­ergy sources such as wind or so­lar power, mak­ing sure that the lights stay on in years to come.

( 3) Mak­ing sense of big data – Col­lect­ing bil­lions of pieces of data in en­vi­ron­ments, from ice sheets to cities, can de­liver pre­cious in­sights into our planet’s phys­i­cal pro­cesses, hu­man be­hav­ior and ev­ery­thing in be­tween.

Cli­mate sci­en­tists re­build the his­tory of our planet’s at­mo­spheric com­po­si­tion by an­a­lyz­ing the tiny bub­bles trapped in ice records, in or­der to an­tic­i­pate the scope of fu­ture changes. But with­out the sta­tis­ti­cal meth­ods that math­e­ma­ti­cians bring to an­a­lyze this data and as­sess its re­li­a­bil­ity, the in­for­ma­tion has less value.

( 4) De­vel­op­ing new tech­nolo­gies – New tech­nolo­gies are key to a low car­bon fu­ture. Car­bon cap­ture and stor­age (CCS), for in­stance, could safely lock away green­house gases emit­ted by fos­sil fuel-fired power sta­tions, and is likely to play a key role in avert­ing dan­ger­ous lev­els of global warm­ing.

De­tailed math­e­mat­i­cal mod­els make this re­search pos­si­ble by us­ing so­phis­ti­cated lo­gis­tics meth­ods, net­work anal­y­sis, sta­tis­ti­cal mod­el­ing and many other math­e­mat­i­cal tools.

(5) Mak­ing Math ac­ces­si­ble to ev­ery­one – Cru­cially, Math can­not save the planet on its own. Many of the global chal­lenges we face are multi- dis­ci­plinary: over­com­ing them re­quires math­e­ma­ti­cians to col­lab­o­rate with sci­en­tists and engi­neers in dif­fer­ent fields. And although the ba­sic sci­ence be­hind cli­mate change is well un­der­stood, con­vinc­ing the gen­eral pub­lic and de­ci­sion mak­ers to take ac­tion to re­duce car­bon emis­sions is very much a work in progress. With

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