Estimating Climate Variability

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cue13-niwotridge.jpgThe “gauchos” of the Argentinian Pampas are among the world’s peoples concerned whether their region can remain viable as the Earth’s climate changes.

The South American grasslands saw an increase in precipitation during the 20th century that led to an expansion of agriculture, but now drought threatens to take a heavy toll on production.

CU applied mathematician Will Kleiber is helping to solve such problems of climate prediction in the Pampas, and in areas of the United States such as Colorado and Iowa. Working with hydrologist Balaji Rajagopalan in civil engineering, Kleiber applies his expertise in spatial statistics to improve climate model accuracy by detailing the probable variability of temperatures and precipitation at different locations over time.

Kleiber also can tell you the probability of the temperature hitting a certain mark where you live two days from now, but the statistical methods applied to the massive datasets on which climate models are built are more complex.

Kleiber, who joined the applied mathematics department last fall, previously worked at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, where he helped to calibrate computer models for geomagnetic storms—models with more than 1 million points of data. Now he works with the Global Historical Climatology Network, an integrated database of daily climate summaries based on 75,000 land stations around the world.

CUE: Academic Program: 
Applied Mathematics

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