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PAOC Colloquium: Matto Mildenberger
Feb 19 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Title: Geographic variation in climate and energy opinions at state and local scales

Abstract: Decision makers need locally relevant information about the physical impacts of climate change to inform mitigation and adaptation efforts. In response, climate scientists have developed a variety of methods to downscale climate change projections from global models to finer regional and local scales. Mitigation and adaptation initiatives also depend heavily on social factors such as levels of public awareness, risk perceptions, policy support and knowledge of appropriate behavioural responses. However, while these critical social data are often available at the national scale (for example, national surveys), they rarely exist at the sub-national levels required by scientists and policy makers. In this way, public opinion data obscures geographic variability across regions, states and localities. In this talk, I discuss new methods to generate independently validated high-resolution opinion estimates at state and local scales. These estimates provide an important new source of information for policymakers, educators and scientists to more effectively address the challenges of climate change I also introduce a companion dataset of spatially resolved climate and clean energy opinions among political partisans. This data similarly visualizes substantial heterogeneity in the climate beliefs of both Republicans and Democrats at state and local scales.


“El Niño as a Topological Insulator: A Surprising Connection Between Climate, and Quantum, Physics”

Symmetries and topology play central roles in our understanding of physics. Topology, for instance, explains the precise quantization of the Hall effect and the protection of surface states in topological insulators against scattering from disorder or bumps. However discrete symmetries and topology have so far played little role in thinking about the fluid dynamics of oceans and atmospheres. In this talk I show that, as a consequence of the rotation of the Earth that breaks time reversal symmetry, equatorially trapped Kelvin and Yanai waves emerge as topologically protected edge modes. Thus the oceans and atmosphere of Earth naturally share basic physics with topological insulators. As equatorially trapped Kelvin waves in the Pacific ocean are an important component of El Niño Southern Oscillation and other climate processes, these new results demonstrate that topology plays a surprising role in Earth’s climate system. [See Science 358, 1075 (2017).]


Ceres as a laboratory for cryovolcanism and other planetary processes

Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt, has been revealed by NASA’s Dawn mission to be a complex geophysical world. Its transitional nature – somewhere between icy and rocky, asteroid and planet – allows Ceres to elucidate a number of planetary processes. In this talk, I will focus on icy volcanism, also called cryovolcanism. I will argue that surface features show Ceres to be geologically active, and geophysical models constrain its cryovolcanic rate. The level of activity I infer shows that cryovolcanism is an important geological process in the solar system, but is not as dominant as silicate volcanism. I will end by discussing ways in which the techniques here can be used to study other topics in planetary geophysics, including determining the interior structure of Ceres and investigating the possibility of metallic volcanism on other worlds.

Department Lecture Series
State of EAPS @ 54-100
Feb 27 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Department Lecture Series
State of EAPS Reception @ 54-915
Feb 27 @ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm