SIAM News Blog

Math of Planet Earth 2013

By Jim Crowley

You have probably heard that 2013 is the year of Mathematics of Planet Earth, but do you know what that means?

MPE2013 began as an initiative of North American math institutes, a way of highlighting contributions of the mathematical sciences to understanding our planet and biosphere. In the short time since MPE2013 was founded, more than 100 organizations in the mathematical sciences, including SIAM, have become partners in this worldwide effort to promote the contributions of mathematics to areas of the geosciences, biology, climate, and related fields.

A recent request from Jim Crowley for details about the 2013 Porter lecture brought the following reply: “Ken Golden is on an Australian icebreaker in Antarctica until November 5. . . .” Shown here coring ice during an earlier polar expedition, Golden is clearly a hands-on applied mathematician. The Porter lecture promises to be both visually spectacular (with video from recent Antarctic expeditions to be shown) and completely up-to-date!
The U.S. kickoff for MPE2013 will occur in January at the Joint Math Meetings in San Diego. Among the many MPE2013-related sessions on the program is the Porter Public Lecture, a joint project of the AMS, MAA, and SIAM that was chosen to fit the MPE2013 theme. Ken Golden (who in 2009 gave the SIAM invited lecture at the JMM) will speak about his team’s work in Antarctica, including the study of sea ice and its role in climate modeling. Many additional special sessions at the Joint Math Meetings will be related to MPE2013. 

Events scheduled for the year include sponsored public lectures, workshops, and summer schools on MPE2013-related themes. In addition, many conferences in the mathematical sciences have elected to make Math of Planet Earth a major theme; among them are the 2013 SIAM Annual Meeting (San Diego, July 8–12) and the SIAM Conference on Geosciences (June 17–20 in Padova, Italy). 

The organizers hope that MPE2013 will attract the attention of the media and, with plans for a daily blog, hope to enlist people from the community to serve as bloggers (go to to volunteer).

An example of an activity scheduled for MPE2013 is a series of public lectures to be given around the world. Held in traditional lecture format in a public hall, each of the lectures will be streamed live to viewers around the world. Topics include biodiversity (“Motility: Molecules, Mechanics, Mathematics and Machines,” by L. Mahadevan), epidemiology (“Puzzles in the Pattern of Plagues,” by David Earn), and climate (“Using Mathematics to Combat Climate Change,” by Ron Dembo).

Stay tuned. You may see MPE2103 featured on public television in the U.S. or highlighted in the media. We hope that readers will seek ways to participate and help show the contributions that our community makes to understanding our world and the living things around us.

  Jim Crowley is the executive director of SIAM. 
blog comments powered by Disqus