MCRN Annual Meeting is a success

The second, and last, day of the Annual Meeting began with the talk "Varying planetary heat sink led to global-warming slowdown and acceleration," by Ka-Kit Tung, an MCRN node-leader at the University of Washington. He presented his recent work explaining the 15-year hiatus in increasing global temperatures. This had been a mystery that has generated many theories among climate scientists. K.K. reviewed the theories and explained the problems in each one. Data from 3500 Argo floats covering the earth's oceans revealed that the Atlantic Ocean is saltier than the Pacific. K.K. explained how it is the salinity of the Atlantic that is responsible for the periodic warming of the deeper Atlantic water rather than the surface air, thus explaining why global temperatures did not increase during the hiatus.

Michalis Vrettas, an Ed Lorenz postdoc at the Earth and Planetary Science Department in the University of California, Berkeley, explained "A stochastic hydraulic conductivity model for weathered bedrock." Observations in coastal Northern California show that after the first rains the water table rises really fast. Michalis' stochastic hydraulic model captures this rapid response of the water table depth to rainfall with greater accuracy than when the model's hydraulic conductivity parameter is deterministic.

Natalya Gomez, an Ed Lorenz postdoc at the Courant Institute of New York University, presented "Sea level - ice sheet interactions," exploring the physics of sea-level changes, accounting for this physics in state-of-the-art numerical ice-sheet models, and taking an integrated view of the Earth system. Model simulations confirm that the local sea-level fall following grounding line retreat has a stabilizing influence on marine ice sheets, acting to slow down or stop migration of the grounding line on a reversed slope. 

A panel of Alejandro Aceves (Southern Methodist University), Alex Mahalov (Arizona State University), Mary Lou Zeeman (Bowdoin College) and Brian Blanton (RENCI) discussed "Mathematical opportunities in food system networks, the electric grid and data/computational issues." Alejandro showed a coupled ODE model for a power grid, and asked, "What happens under extreme conditions?" Alex stressed the importance of assessing urban energy. Mary Lou presented the challenge to formulate a conceptual model with the goal of attaining sustainable food and nutrition security. Brian spoke of the importance of software verifiability: Scientific code needs to be open to review, testing and reproducibility in order to assure accuracy and credibility. For references, please see here.

After a brief summary of the hackathon from the Junior Researchers Meeting, Andrew Roberts (Cornell University) lead the tradition of writing on the whiteboard all of the MCRNers' research interests that members wanted to pursue via the Research Focus Groups. Once those were decided, members were able to write their names below the groups they wanted to join. Two rounds of breakout meetings allowed the focus groups to discuss their goals, preferred modes of operation, leaders and meeting times. This year's focus groups are:

Resilience- Led by Alanna and Mary Lou. Weekly meeting time is Tuesday, 1:15-2:30 pm ET
Modern Climate Problems- Led by Raj and Jonah. Weekly meeting time TBD
Conceptual Model Validation- Led by Dave Camp. Biweekly meetings
Electric Grid- Led by Alejandro. Weekly meeting on Tuesday 5pm ET
Agriculture and/or Food Systems-Led by Mary Lou. Tuesday 12:15pm ET
Joint Data Assimilation Seminar– Led by Colin and Laura. Weekly meeting is Thursday 11am EDT
Nonsmooth- Led by Kaitlin and Julie. Weekly meeting time TBD
PaleoSeminar– Led by Craig and Jim. Weekly meeting time is Wednesday 12:15-1:15pm ET
Marine Ecology- Led by Colin. Weekly meeting with SAMSI working group is Thursday 3pm ET
Earth System Models- Led by Sean. Meetings TBD
Tipping Points- Led by Karna. Weekly meeting time TBD
Cryosphere- Led by Ross. Meeting time is Thursday 1pm
Biogeochemistry- Led by Hans Kaper. Irregular meeting times.

The meeting ended with the beginning of 6 new research focus groups, the continuation of 7 already established groups, and lots of momentum.


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