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Mathematics of Planet Earth






DIMACS and Mathematics of Planet Earth 2013 and Beyond

Mathematics of Planet Earth 2013 (MPE 2013) is an initiative of mathematical sciences organizations around the world designed to showcase the ways in which the mathematical sciences can be useful in tackling our world's problems.

This initiative has led to plans for many events to take place in 2013, including more than 10 long term programs at institutes around the world, more than 50 workshops, many invited speakers and special sessions at societal meetings, numerous public lectures, the development of educational materials, art exhibits, and an international prize competition to create innovative modules for display and use and which can be widely disseminated and exhibited.

Mathematics of Planet Earth 2013+ With the human population recently having surpassed 7 billion, protecting the earth and its resources is a shared challenge facing all of humanity. People need food, housing, clean water, and energy; yet the earth's systems and dynamics are unpredictable, and its resources are limited. We need to understand the impact of our actions on the environment, how to adapt those actions to lessen our impact, how to predict and respond to catastrophic events, and how to plan for changes to come. The most pressing problems are inherently multidisciplinary, and the mathematical sciences have an important role to play.   

A large community of mathematical scientists has stepped forward to embrace this role through participation in the Mathematics of Planet Earth (MPE) project. MPE was conceived as a year-long project slated to begin in January 2013, involving mainly North American institutions. It has since evolved to become a truly worldwide initiative with partners from all continents. As MPE has gained members, it has become clear that there is momentum to propel it beyond 2013. The problems facing our planet will persist, and this project (MPE 2013+) aims to involve mathematical scientists in laying the groundwork for a long-term effort to surmount them. MPE 2013+ aims to sustain MPE activities beyond 2013 by: 1) conducting five research workshops that each defines a set of future research challenges; 2) establishing a research and education forum (REF) associated with each workshop that involves follow-up smaller group meetings to flesh out the challenges, identify potential follow-up activities, and begin collaborations; 3) holding an education workshop that helps to identify how to integrate themes identified in the research workshops into undergraduate and graduate curricula; 4) finding ways to involve the next generation of mathematical scientists in the effort,  especially through a conference  that will prepare participants for involvement in the research workshops; and 5) disseminating information about the mathematics of planet earth by creating a website and other publicity materials for the project. The research workshops cover the following themes: Management of Natural Resources (including water, forests, and food supplies); Sustainable Human Environments (including smarter cities, anthropogenic biomes, security), Natural Disasters (monitoring, responding to, and mitigating their effects); Data-aware Energy Use (including alternative energy investment portfolios, smart grid, smart buildings, electric vehicles); Global Change (including observation, metrics, and mitigating and adapting to the effects of change).  Education sessions at each research workshop feed into an education workshop aimed at planning a roadmap for education, highlighting the role of the mathematical sciences in understanding and sustaining the planet.

MPE2013 Activities at DIMACS:

Outline of DIMACS-led Activities under Mathematics of Planet Earth 2013+

Related Activities in the DIMACS Sustainability Initiative:

    Updated March 28, 2014