Workshop on Mathematics in the Geosciences Norris Center, Northwestern University

October 3-6, 2011

Over the past two decades the earth sciences have acquired a wealth of new and high quality data from new and greatly improved observing systems. Because this volume of data poses a major challenge for traditional analysis methods, only a fraction of their potential has yet been exploited. Similarly, results of many advanced numerical simulations of earth processes are only partially analyzed. Hence neither the data nor the modeling are being used to their full potential, leaving crucial questions unresolved. This situation arises in a wide range of areas including earthquake and volcano dynamics, earth structure and geodynamics, climate and weather, and planetary science.

Addressing this situation calls for the application of mathematical methods not currently used, which requires a deeper and long-term dialogue and interaction between the mathematical and geoscience communities. To this end, a workshop was funded by the NSF programs in mathematics and earth sciences to study the feasibility of establishing a semi-virtual institute in Chicago to facilitate a fruitful interaction between a broad and geographically distributed group of mathematicians and geoscientists. Its goal was for earth scientists and mathematicians to identify and explore jointly crucial unsolved problems amenable to mathematical approaches not currently used. This seems feasible if both groups develop a long-term relationship giving each reasonable sophistication with the other’s language, problems, and techniques. To set the stage, the meeting illustrated some areas in which collaborative efforts are likely to yield significant advances.
Most of the talks and discussions can be viewed on YouTube here 
The resulting white paper can be downloaded here 


Monday afternoon

Tutorial lectures and discussions to expose mathematics and geoscience students to some relevant topics, to help them understand and derive full benefit from the meeting.1:00 Seth Stein (Northwestern) Welcome and overview (powerpoint) 
1:10 Frederik Simons (Princeton) Promoting sparsity and localization in geophysical inverse problems (abstract) (pdf)
1:40 Maarten De Hoop (Purdue) Imaging Earth’s deep interior — multi-scale techniques
2:40 John Schotland (University of Michigan) Wave propagation in random media (abstract)
3:20 Blake McShane (Northwestern) Statistics of millennial temperature reconstructions (abstract) (pdf)
4:20 Seth Stein (Northwestern) Predicting earthquakes and earthquake hazards: why so little success? (abstract) (powerpoint) (YouTube)

5:00 Grady Wright (Boise State) Radial basis functions for computational geosciences (abstract) (pdf)

Tuesday morning

9:30 Kerry Emanuel (MIT) Using applied mathematics to assess hurricane risk (abstract)
10:40 Clint Dawson (Texas) Hurricane forecasting and hindcasting: Katrina and other hurricanes (abstract)

Tuesday afternoon

1:30 David Jackson (UCLA) Earth science and mathematics: what gets lost in translation (abstract)
2:10 Andrew Majda (NYU) Improving complex models through stochastic parameterization and information theory (abstract)
3:20 Montserrat Fuentes (North Carolina State) A nonparametric Bayesian spatial modeling framework for hurricane surface wind fields data (abstract)
4:00 Mian Liu (Missouri) Multiscale faulting and fault interaction within continents: challenges for numerical modeling (abstract)

Wednesday morning

9:00 Richard Peltier (Toronto) Ice-earth-ocean interactions: the mathematics and mechanics of global sea level history (abstract)
9:40 Gregory Beylkin (Colorado) On methods of seismic imaging (abstract)
10:50 George Papanicolaou (Stanford) Large deviations and uncertainty quantification for mean field models and conservation laws

Wednesday afternoon

1:30 Michael Ghil (UCLA) Toward a mathematical theory of climate sensitivity: complexity, nonlinearity and stochasticity (abstract) (pdf)
2:10 Bruce Buffett (Berkeley) Numerical models of planetary dynamos: challenges and opportunities (abstract) (powerpoint)

Thursday morning

9:00 Jay Melosh (Purdue) “Experimenting” with colliding planets (abstract)

Organizing committee:
Seth Stein, Northwestern University, Chair (earth sciences)
David A. Yuen, University of Minnesota (earth sciences)
Ridgway Scott, University of Chicago (mathematics)
Maarten V. De Hoop, Purdue University (mathematics and earth sciences)
Peter Constantin, University of Chicago (mathematics)
John Schotland, University of Michigan (mathematics and physics )
Mary Silber, Northwestern (applied math)
Jared Wunsch, Northwestern (mathematics)
Michael Stein, University of Chicago (statistics)

Agenda and abstract volume

Meeting photos

Seismic survey photos

Lodging will be at the Hilton Orrington Hotel, within easy walking distance.

Map of hotel and meeting site