Mathematics for Planet Earth

Find out where an Advanced Mathematics degree can take you

UNSW School of Mathematics and Statistics will hold their annual Advanced Mathematics event on Friday 4 October.

Advanced Mathematics Day brings together undergraduate, honours, masters and PhD students in all areas of mathematical science to hear from engaging speakers in industry, academia, and fellow students.

Click here for more information and to register.

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PhD Project: Wake interference by swimming crocodiles

Crocodiles, including the saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) have the remarkable ability to swim underwater at high speed while barely making a ripple at the surface. It has been hypothesized that crocodiles are able to do this because the bony ridges on the crocodile’s back (called scutes or osteoderms) produce destructively interfering wake patterns at the water surface, like noise-cancelling headphones. Understanding and replicating this phenomena could have important implications for submarine and ship hull design.

In this project, we will evaluate this hypothesis using a combination of theory, numerical modelling, and laboratory experiments using 3D-printed crocodile models in a wave flume. Experience with Python programming is essential. This project will be co-supervised by Dr Geoff Vasil (U. Sydney), Dr Chris Lustri (Macquarie) and Dr Shane Keating (UNSW).

Click here for key dates and to submit your application online.

Scientists and schools join forces to understand urban climate

A new citizen science project will place meteorological and air quality sensors in Sydney schools to gather valuable research data and increase awareness of the changing local urban environment.

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The Schools Weather and Air Quality (SWAQ) project is the brain-child of Melissa Hart, Angela Maharaj and Giovanni Di Virgilio of UNSW’s Climate Change Research Centre. With funding from the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, SWAQ will improve urban weather and air quality measurements around Sydney by placing meteorological and air quality sensors in its schools. Students will collect and analyse research quality data for use in science and geography curriculum-aligned classroom activities. The data will also be freely available online to the public and researchers via this website, enabling everyone to visualize the data and the current weather and air quality of each school’s location.

SWAQ investigator Angela Maharaj will discuss the SWAQ project and citizen science at a public lecture at the Bureau of Meteorology in Sydney on December 14 2018 as part of the upcoming Frontiers in Fluid Dynamics workshop. All are welcome to attend this event.

Speaker: Dr Angela Maharaj (UNSW).

Title: Schools weather and air quality (SWAQ): where citizen science meets urban climate research.

When: 6:00 pm, 14 December 2018.

Where: Bureau of Meteorology, 16/300 Elizabeth St, Sydney

 

 

 

Last chance to register for Frontiers of Fluid Dynamics workshop

Friday 7 December is the last day to register for this interdisciplinary workshop sponsored by the Bureau of Meterology, the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, and UNSW School of Mathematics and Statistics.

Find out more: https://mathsforearth.com/fluids2018

When: 8:30am-5:30pm, 14 December 2018 (lunch provided).

Where: Bureau of Meteorology, 16/300 Elizabeth St, Sydney

Registration: https://goo.gl/forms/7iss25mObI29yaNx2 (Deadline 7 December)

Frontiers in Fluid Dynamics workshop

Frontiers in Fluid Dynamics is an interdisciplinary workshop that aims to bring together researchers in academia, industry, and government working on all aspects of environmental and applied fluid dynamics, including forecasting, atmosphere-ocean modeling, observations and experiments.

Abstracts are invited for oral and poster presentations. Registration is free and lunch is provided. Students and early career researchers are particularly encouraged. The workshop will be followed by the AMOS-NSW public lecture and a workshop dinner in neighboring Surry Hills (self-funded).

When: 8:30am-5:30pm, 14 December 2018 (lunch provided).

Where: Bureau of Meteorology, 16/300 Elizabeth St, Sydney

Registration: https://goo.gl/forms/7iss25mObI29yaNx2 (Deadline 7 December)

Invited speakers:

Plenary lecture (9:00am): “Ensemble ocean forecasting and other next generation developments: what are the likely impacts to defence and other applications in Australia and NSW?” Dr Gary Brassington (Australian Bureau of Meteorology)

AMOS-NSW public lecture (6:00pm): “Schools weather and air quality (SWAQ): where citizen science meets urban climate research.” Dr Angela Maharaj (UNSW).

 

Sponsored by:

 

Matthew England

As a kid I grew up surfing and open water swimming every weekend here in Sydney and have been hooked on the oceans ever since. My first degree was in pure and applied mathematics but I quickly transitioned to oceanography during my PhD as I loved the sense of adventure and discovery that came with trying to understand how the ocean works.

Today I use computational models, observations, mathematical analyses and theory to study the dynamics of the oceans and their role in climate variability and climate change on time-scales ranging from seasons to millennia. I am interested in what makes our climate system tick, particularly the role played by the oceans and also sea-ice.

My work targets tropical climate modes, polar processes, the meridional overturning circulation and ocean heat uptake. While I dabble in paleoclimate problems (because they’re fascinating!), most of my time is spent studying present and future ocean processes and how they impact our climate system.

I supervise PhD projects in physical oceanography, atmosphere-ocean-ice interactions and climate dynamics. Specific projects can be tailored to fit the interests and skills of mathematics / physics graduates in the following topic areas: global water-mass formation, climate modes of variability, ocean ventilation, tropical and high-latitude climate dynamics, ocean drivers of climate variability and extremes, and global climate change.

Links:

Personal website
ARC Centre of Excellence in Climate Extremes
UNSW Climate Change Research Centre
Articles on The Conversation

Follow me on Twitter @ProfMattEngland

Shane Keating interviewed on ABC Radio National about Montreal Protocol and climate change

Dr Shane Keating (UNSW Sydney) spoke on ABC Radio National Breakfast about the lessons the Montreal Protocol has for climate policy.

Check out the interview here.  Shane also recently wrote about this topic for The Conversation.

 

 

Erik Van Sebille to present seminar on ocean dispersion with applications to ocean plastic

Title:
Patterns in dispersion and accumulation of plastic litter by ocean currents and eddies
Speaker:
Erik van Sebille, Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, Utrecht University, Netherlands
Date: 
Mon, 15/10/2018 – 4:00pm
Venue: 
RC-3085, The Red Centre, UNSW
Abstract
Ocean currents and eddies carry floating plastic litter from coastlines into the infamous garbage patches in the centres of the gyres. However, the time scales and pathways on which this happens are unknown. In order to assess the impact of the plastic, it is key to know where it gets carried through vulnerable ecosystems.
In this talk, Dr Van Sebille will first discuss how tracks of satellite-tracked drifting buoys can be used to create a Markov model of dispersion at the surface of the ocean. He will show that this simple model accurately simulates the formation of the garbage patches, and can be used as a quick and easy tool to assess pathways of floating stuff.
Dr Van Sebille will then introduce more complicated models of passive particulates in the ocean, based on a Lagrangian description of the flow field from high-resolution models. While Lagrangian particle tracking is widely used in oceanography to track tracers, here the challenge is to make the virtual particles actually ‘behave’ like plastic.
About the speaker: 

Erik is an oceanographer and climate scientist. His research focuses on how ocean currents transport heat, nutrients, marine organisms and plastic litter between different regions of the ocean.

He currently leads the “Tracking Of Plastic In Our Seas” (TOPIOS) project, funded by a 5-year (2017-2022) European Research Council Starting Grant.

Erik is the winner of the 2016 European Geosciences Union (EGU) Ocean Division Outstanding Young Scientist Award. In 2013, Erik was awarded a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) by the Australian Research Council.

Erik is a strong science communicator, with appearances on international television, radio and newspapers. He was a Media Fellow with the Australian Government Climate Commission and has co-hosted a section on sea level rise in Tuvalu in the international documentary series Tipping Points. 

He is a sought-after international expert on oceanography, having done over 250 interviews on ocean circulation and plastic pollution with media outlets including CCNBBCNBCABC, New York TimesWall Street JournalGuardianTIME magazine, AP, and Reuters.

Erik also holds an honorary lectureship at Imperial College London’s Grantham Institute

AMSI Summer School 2019 at UNSW Sydney

Australia’s largest national event for students in mathematical sciences will be held at UNSW Sydney in January 2019.

The Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) Summer School is a four-week residential school providing students from across Australia with the opportunity to develop their mathematical skills, meet like-minded people, and network with potential future employers.

The AMSI Summer School 2019 program offers eight carefully selected subjects to ensure the latest developments in Australian maths are offered to students, some of which may not be offered at a home university. Students can choose to study one or two courses and, with permission from a home university, students can use an AMSI Summer School subject to gain credit towards their degree.

The School is primarily for honours and postgraduate students in the mathematical sciences and cognate disciplines, but other students are welcome to apply. Courses include

Visit the Summer School homepage for more details and to register.

Shane Keating

If you looked down on the ocean from space, you would see an intricate tapestry of mesoscale eddies , 30-300 km across, interwoven with submesoscale vortices and fronts on scales of 1-30 km, and surface waves and turbulence on scales smaller than 1 km. My research uses cutting-edge developments in the fields of applied mathematics, satellite remote sensing, and physical oceanography to understand the profound influence of these features on ocean circulation, climate, and marine ecology.

Using ultra-high-resolution observations from land, sea, and space, we are now beginning to unravel the ocean’s tapestry of eddies, fronts and waves and understand, model, and predict their role in mixing and dispersion in the ocean.

 

Links:

Personal website
UNSW School of Mathematics and Statistics
ARC Centre of Excellence in Climate Extremes
Articles on The Conversation

Follow my on Twitter @science_shane

 

 

 

Jan Zika

The planet is getting warmer. The ocean plays a massive role. It is partly our friend because it is a huge heat bank and can slow down the rate of warming. But it can also fight back by lifting sea levels and making cyclones more powerful. It also suffers through damage to the biosphere. We probably know less about how the ocean works than we do about outer space, yet if we knew just a bit more it would really help us manage in the future.

Since Newton we’ve had a pretty good idea of how physical systems work – at least those that aren’t super tiny, close to absolute zero or travelling close to the speed of light. The ocean and atmosphere thankfully fall into that category. This means we can write down equations describing the climate and the challenge is solving them. Sometimes this involves a few scribbles on the back of an envelope, a few pages of careful sums or getting a super computer to process a few trillion calculations. In the end without maths we can neither understand how the climate works nor make accurate predictions about what might happen.

Links:

Personal website
UNSW School of Mathematics and Statistics
ARC Centre of Excellence in Climate Extremes

Follow me on Twitter: @JanDZika

Dynamics of a marine heatwave: what happens below the surface?

Extreme temperatures in the ocean are getting more frequent and intense, impacting marine ecosystems and industries. However the subsurface signature of these marine heatwaves is still largely unknown, in particular in shallow coastal areas where most of the ecological damages occur.

In addition to sustained observations, the Australian Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) now aims at sampling the coastal ocean during marine heatwaves with real-time deployments of ocean gliders. Gliders are automated underwater vehicles which measure the water properties between the ocean floor and the surface for a few weeks. Two of such deployments were successfully finalised, sampling the eastern shelf of Tasmania during the latest marine heatwave event in the Tasman Sea in summer / spring 2019.

The project aims at understanding the extent and characteristics of marine heatwaves using glider measurements and complementary satellite and moored observations. Key questions include the temporal evolution, from the onset to the decline of the extreme event, and the influence of the local oceanography such as currents and wind-driven processes on the persistence and variability of these anomalous temperatures. The student will use programming language to analyse this unique dataset and compute the heat budget equations.

Basic knowledge of oceanography and experience in Matlab or Python are required. The project will be based at UNSW Sydney, co-supervised by Amandine Schaeffer (UNSW), Jessica Benthuysen (AIMS) and Neil Holbrook (UTAS).

Contact: a.schaeffer@unsw.edu.au

Understanding how precipitation extremes scale in future climates

While global climate models (GCMs) remain our best tool for investigating the Earth’s system response to anthropogenic forcings, their spatial resolution (generally hundreds of km) is much coarser than the scales of the key processes leading to precipitation extremes (e.g. intense convective rainfall events). Therefore, parametrizations are necessary and the simulation of precipitation is not explicitly resolved in models. Spatial resolution is finer in regional climate models (RCMs) (generally tens of km), which is expected to improve the simulation of precipitation extremes that are very sensitive to spatial contrasts and topography. However, even at the scales of regional models parametrizations are still required.

Global and regional models have advantages and disadvantages for studying precipitation extremes, but how their output scales with respect to the other is rarely compared. In particular, it is unclear how the future changes in precipitation extremes from large ensembles of regional climate models compare to those from global models. This project will assess how precipitation projections for Australia from global and regional models scale using the latest start-of-the-art GCMs and RCMs.

Requirements: Some prior programming and data visualisation experience (e.g. Python, NCL, MATLAB, R, etc.).

This project is supervised by A/Prof Lisa Alexander and Dr Margot Bador (UNSW Sydney). Please contact l.alexander@unsw.edu.au for more information.

 

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Inaugural event celebrates Women in Mathematics around the world

This year the world will celebrate the Inaugural International Women in Mathematics Day on May 12. The date was chosen in honour of the birthday of the late Maryam Mirzakhani, the first woman to win the Fields Medal.

Events are being planned around the globe to celebrate the contribution of women to mathematics. Find your nearest events in this interactive map.
 
Three events taking place in Sydney for International Women in Mathematics Day:

Upcoming workshop on the future of Earth-observing satellites

Researchers and partners from industry, government, and academia are invited to a free workshop on May 24th 2019 to discuss the future of satellite-based remote sensing of Earth’s water resources and ocean dynamics. The workshop will be held at the Sydney Bureau of Meteorology and streamed live to the web.

In the coming decade, new satellite missions will map Earth’s surface water and sea level (ocean topography) at a resolution that has not been possible before. These observations will provide critical information that is needed to assess water resources on land, track regional sea level changes, monitor coastal processes, and observe small-scale ocean currents and eddies. The first of these satellites, the NASA/CNES Surface Water Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission, is scheduled for launch in late 2021.

The workshop on future high-resolution satellite altimetry is organized by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and the Australian Surface Water Ocean Topography (AUSWOT) working group, a consortium of researchers and stakeholders from industry, government, and academia that aims to develop Australia’s capability in the field of surface water and ocean topography and address key issues relevant to the Asia-Pacific region.

All researchers and partners are invited to participate in this free workshop. Click here to find out more information and to register.