New textbook wins 2013 Choice Award

March 11, 2014

Mathematical modeling, statistics, and climate research are the subjects of a new textbook that recently received the 2013 ASLI Choice Award  from the Atmospheric Science Librarians International. Coauthored by Hans G. Kaper, Argonne emeritus and former director of the Mathematics and Computer Science Division, and his colleague Hans Engler, professor at Georgetown University, the textbook was selected for the annual award because of  its “accessible explanations in key areas where mathematics and climate meet.”

Titled Mathematics & Climate, the textbook covers a wide range of mathematical topics, including the use of conceptual models, statistics, mathematical theory, and numerical methods. Applications in climate science come from original research papers that have appeared over the past few decades.

“We wanted to cover topics at the intersection of mathematics and climate science, with an emphasis on mathematical modeling and applied mathematics techniques that are enabling researchers to gain new insights , for example, into ocean circulation and the Earth’s energy balance ,” said Kaper. “At the same time, we wanted to expose students to statistical topics, such as regression analysis and extreme value theory,  not ordinarily covered in applied mathematics texts but essential in climate science.”  

The award-winning book also includes a set of exercises at the end of each chapter. Far more than mere homework assignments, the exercises enhance the material presented, simulating critical thinking and giving a sense of the excitement involved in devising techniques that enable better understanding of complex climate phenomena.

According to the authors, the book grew out of a course they taught at Georgetown University.  It is already being used as a text at Arizona State University and the University of Utah, as well as at Georgetown.

And while the text is written at the advanced undergraduates and beginning graduate student level, its organization by topics make it readily accessible to others, as the ASLI award indicates.

“We are confident that the material will be of use also to data scientists and geoscientists in academia, national laboratories, and public service organizations interested in current issues of climate and sustainability,” said Kaper.  He noted that the book begins with a general introduction to the mathematical study of climate and includes a glossary of terms for nontechnical readers as well as extensive references and MATLAB codes for more technical audiences.

 

Mathematics & Climate was published by the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics in October 2013. The ASLI award was presented  in February 2014. For more information and links, see the Georgetown University website.