Integration of Mathematics to protect Mother Earth
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