MPE 2013: Mathematics of Planet Earth

Het symposium Mathematics of Planet Earth heeft  plaatsgevonden op 21 december 2013.
Hier zijn de foto’s te vinden.

MPE2013 is een wereldwijd initiatief om te laten zien wat wiskunde kan betekenen voor de uitdagingen waarvoor we ons gesteld zien met betrekking tot klimaatveranderingen, duurzaamheid, natuurrampen, ecologie, biodiversiteit, epidemiologie, politieke/economische systemen en vele andere aspecten.

Het symposium bestond uit een publieksdeel en een deel voor wiskundigen.

Publieksdeel

Wil je alles weten over hoe bliksem ontstaat? Ben je benieuwd hoe wiskunde ervoor zorgt dat je veilig kunt wonen in Nederland? Wil je weten hoe het zit met het smelten van ijs op de noordpool? Hoe voorspellen we het weer voor over 100 jaar? Wat is een onderwaterbos? Wat hebben biljart en een grote wordende woestijn met elkaar te maken? En wat doet wiskunde bij al deze onderwerpen?

Aantwoorden  op bovenstaande vragen waren  gratis te krijgen op zaterdag 21 december 2013 in Utrecht! Daar kwamen namelijk een aantal wiskundigen antwoorden geven op deze vragen en andere interessante onderwerpen die met de planeet aarde te maken hebben.

De dagvoorzitters waren Sofie van den Enk en Ionica Smeets

dagvoorzitters-mpe

Wiskundige deel

Mathematics and the melting polar ice caps

In September of 2012, the area of the Arctic Ocean covered by sea ice reached its lowest level ever recorded in more than three decades of satellite measurements. In fact, compared to the 1980’s and 1990’s, this represents a loss of more than half of the summer Arctic sea ice pack. While global climate models generally predict sea ice declines over the 21st century, the precipitous losses observed so far have significantly outpaced most projections.

Prof. Ken Golden (Dept. of Mathematics, Univ. of Utah, USA) will discuss how mathematical models of composite materials and statistical physics are being used to study key sea ice properties and advance how sea ice is represented in climate models. This work is helping to improve projections of the fate of Earth’s ice packs, and the response of polar ecosystems. In addition, an exciting video from a 2012 Antarctic expedition where sea ice properties were measured will be shown.

golden

Programma

12.30-13.30: Inloop, markt, posters
13.30-14.30: Hoofdvoordracht Prof. Ken Golden
14.30-15.00: Pauze, markt, posters
15.00-17.00: Voordachtsessies met ludieke wiskundige onderbreking
17.00-18.00: Borrel, markt, posters

Locatie: Educatorium, Uithof, Utrecht

Voordrachtsessies

Ute Ebert: Hoe werkt bliksem?

uteProf. Ute Ebert (Eindhoven University of Technology and leader of CWI’s research group Multiscale Dynamics) and her collaborators presently focus on multiscale plasma modeling, in particular, on the dynamics of sparks and lightning. Her CWI group concentrates on modeling and on the numerical and analytical aspects of calculations on multiple scales (from single electron dynamics up to the macroscopic discharge channel trees). This research is embedded in multidisciplinary projects together with applied plasma physics and power electrical engineering at TU Eindhoven and with an international network of geophysicists where Ebert also contributes to planning and interpreting experiments and observations.

Kortom: bliksem is niet alleen mooi of gevaarlijk, maar ook nuttig; bijvoorbeeld om de lucht te zuiveren in verkeerstunnels. Prof. Ute Ebert (Technische Universiteit Eindhoven en onderzoeker op het Centrum voor Wiskunde & Informatica) probeert het natuurverschijnsel daarom te temmen. Ze kan precies uitleggen hoe bliksem werkt.

Kees Roos/Carel Eijgenraam: Optimale dijkhoogten in Nederland

carelDike height optimization is of major importance to the Netherlands because a large part of the country lies below sea level, and high water levels in rivers can cause floods. Recently improvements have been made on the cost-benefit model introduced by Van Dantzig after the devastating flood in the Netherlands in 1953. Carel Eijgenraam considers the extension of this model to nonhomogeneous dike rings, which may also be applicable to other deltas in the world. A nonhomogeneous dike ring consists of different segments with different characteristics with respect to flooding and investment costs. The individual segments can be heightened independently at different moments in time and by different amounts, making the problem considerably more complex than the homogeneous case. Carel Eijgenraam shows how the problem can be modeled as a mixed-integer nonlinear programming problem, and he presents an iterative algorithm that can be used to solve the problem. Moreover, he considers a robust optimization approach to deal with uncertainty in the model parameters. The method has been implemented and integrated in software, which is used by the government to determine how the safety standards in the Dutch Water Act should be changed.

keesKees Roos: De dijken in Nederland zijn erg belangrijk, omdat een groot deel van het land onder het zeeniveau ligt en hoog water in rivieren kan zorgen voor overstromingen. Prof. Kees Roos spreekt over de verschillende segmenten van dijken en hun optimale hoogtes.

 

 

 

 

 

Antonios Zagaris: Het onzichtbare onderwaterbos en de koolstofkringloop

antoniosAntonios Zagaris will present analytic results concerning phytoplankton growth under nutrient-light co-limitation. The model he employs consists of two reaction-advection-diffusion PDEs for the plankton and nutrient concentrations and incorporates self-shading effects.

He will work with a single spatial dimension (depth) and look closely into the linear stability problem for the trivial steady state (no phytoplankton). Using the results, he will identify the emergence of two distinct localized patterns: benthic layers (BLs), corresponding to the localization of plankton close to the bottom of the water column, and deep-chlorophyll maxima (DCMs), corresponding to localization in a thin region interior to the water column.

Arjen Doelman: Klimaatverandering, verwoestijning en biljart

arjenDoor geleidelijk veranderende omgevingsfactoren kunnen gezonde ecosystemen abrupt veranderen in woestijnen. Om dergelijke catastrofale veranderingen te begrijpen zijn conceptuele modellen geformuleerd voor het gedrag van vegetatiepatronen. Prof.dr. Arjen Doelman beschrijft de reactie-diffusievergelijkingen waaruit zulke modellen bestaan en analyseert de patronen die er in voorkomen. Onder toenemende ecologische stress, zoals verminderde regenval, is het mogelijk dat vegetatiepatronen destabiliseren tot alleen een woestijn als stabiele toestand overblijft.

 

 

 

MPE2013 moves into Mathematics of Planet Earth

The successful year-long initiative will continue past 2013.

MONTREAL, December 11, 2013 – On January 1, 2014, the international project “Mathematics of Planet Earth 2013” (MPE2013) will continue as “Mathematics of Planet Earth” (MPE). The objectives remain unchanged – identify fundamental research questions about Planet Earth and reach out to the general public.

MPE2013 was the brainchild of Christiane Rousseau, professor of mathematics at Université de Montréal and vice-president of the International Mathematics Union. As Prof. Rousseau observed, “Mathematics of Planet Earth 2013 has been a great start and the level of cooperation demonstrated by MPE2013 is unprecedented. But identifying the research problems is not enough. Mathematics moves slowly, the planetary problems are very challenging, and we cannot expect great results in just one year.”

According to Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, “The Mathematics of Planet Earth (MPE) initiative resonates strongly with UNESCO’s work to promote the sciences and science education, especially through our International Basic Sciences Programme. Mathematics advances fundamental research and plays an important role in our daily lives. More than ever we need to develop relevant learning materials and to spark in every student, especially girls, a sense of joy in the wondrous universe of mathematics and the immense potential unleashed by this discipline. In this spirit, we commend this initiative and fully endorse the proposal to continue this programme beyond 2013.”

Highlights of “Mathematics of Planet Earth 2013”

Under the patronage of UNESCO, MPE2013 brought together over 140 scientific societies, universities, research institutes, and foundations from around the world to research fundamental questions about Planet Earth, nurture a better understanding of global issues, and help inform the public about the essential mathematics of the challenges facing our planet. MPE2013 activities have included more than 15 long-term programs at mathematical research institutes all over the world, 60 workshops, dozens of special sessions at society meetings, public lecture series, summer and winter schools for graduate students, research experiences for undergraduates, an international competition for museum-quality virtual displays, and an open-source MPE exhibition. In addition, MPE2013 has supported the development of high-quality curriculum materials for all ages and grades.

Encouraging Research

The scientific activities of MPE2013 were directed both to the mathematical sciences community and their potential collaborators in other disciplines to identify fundamental research questions about Planet Earth. MPE2013 proved that many issues related to weather, climate, ecology, sustainability, public health, natural hazards, and financial and social systems lead to interesting mathematical problems. Several summer and winter schools have offered training opportunities for junior researchers in these areas.

Reaching Out

The outreach activities of MPE2013 were as important as the scientific activities. More than sixty public lectures have been given with audiences on all five continents. Particularly noteworthy were the MPE Day at UNESCO and the MPE Simons Public Lectures, now posted on the MPE2013 Web site, which were supported financially by the Simons Foundation. MPE2013 has maintained a speakers bureau, supported the development of curriculum materials, produced a collection of posters, special issues of mathematical magazines and other educational materials. All these materials are available free of charge from the MPE2013 web site. Many activities took place at schools in several countries. The permanent Open Source MPE Exhibition is now hosted on the website of IMAGINARY and can be used and adapted by schools and museums.

Daily Blogs

The dual mission of MPE2013 – stimulating the mathematics research community and reaching out to the general public – is reflected in the Daily Blogs (one in English, the other in French), each of which has featured close to 300 posts on topics ranging from the structure of the core of our planet to the understanding of biodiversity, from finding ways to advance cutting edge solar technology to better understanding the Earth’s climate system, and from earthquakes and tsunamis to the spread of infectious diseases. The blogs get several hundred hits a day.

Praise for “Mathematics of Planet Earth 2013”

”The International Mathematical Union enthusiastically supports the continuation of Mathematics of Planet Earth. The success of this initiative attests to the foundational role of the mathematical sciences and interdisciplinary partnerships in research into global challenges, increasingly valued by society.” (Ingrid Daubechies, President of the International Mathematical Union)

It’s not about preaching to the converted. “The curriculum material developed for Mathematics of Planet Earth provides schools and educators a free-of-charge wealth of material and will be used for many years to come. The initiative has presented the public, schools and the media with challenging applications of mathematics, with significant answers to questions like ‘What is mathematics useful for?’” (Mary Lou Zeeman, MPE coordinator for Education)

“Mathematics of Planet Earth wonderfully contributed to diffuse an informed culture of environment and helps to get a common mathematical toolkit necessary to deal the dramatic challenges faced today by our planet.” (Ferdinando Arzarello, President of the International Commission of Mathematical Instruction).

MPE2013 has drawn the attention of other disciplines as well. Among its partners are the American Geophysical Union, the International Association for Mathematical Geosciences, and the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics. The research on planetary issues is interdisciplinary, and collaboration and networking are essential for progress.

“Great mathematicians understood the importance of research into planet Earth many centuries ago. Pierre Fermat studied the weight of the Earth; Carl Friedrich Gauss contributed to the development of geomagnetism and together with Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel made significant contribution to geodesy; Andrei Tikhonov developed regularization techniques intensively used in studies of inverse problems in many areas of geophysics. Mathematics of Planet Earth 2013 highlighted again the importance of international multidisciplinary cooperation and stimulated mathematicians and geoscientists to work together to uncover Earth’s mysteries.” (Alik Ismail-Zadeh, mathematical geophysicist and Secretary General of the International Union of Geography and Geodesy).

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