The International Graduate Summer School on Statistics and Climate Modeling

  • Start Date: 08/09/2008
  • End Date: 08/13/2008

Stephan Sain, Geophysical Statistics Project, NCAR
Doug Nychka, IMAGe, NCAR
Claudia Tebaldi, Climate Central
Gerald Meehl, Climate and Global Dynamics Division, NCAR
Caspar Ammann, Climate and Global Dynamics Division, NCAR
Bo Li, Geophysical Statistics Project, NCAR and Department of Statistics, Pudue University
Richard Furrer, Colorado School of Mines


National Center for Atmospheric Research


* Introduction to foundations and methods for estimating curves and surfaces
* Basic climate model science
* Regional climate and assessing impacts of climate change
* Reconstructing past climate
* Interpreting the numerical experiments from climate models.


The Labs will focus on:
* Spatial analysis using the R statistical environment.
* Data formats and manipulating large geophysical data sets
* Accessing community geophysical data sets.

Field trips

Several field trips will be organized to give the students a better
understanding of the kinds of scientific facilities needed to study the
Earth system:
* Scientific supercomputering and visualization: A tour of the NCAR supercomputing facility and the visualizaion lab.
* Long term environmental monitoring: A visit to the Mountain Research
Station maintained by the Institute of Alpine and Arctic Research
* In situ measurements of the atmospheric: A visit to the NCAR research
aircraft facility to learn about scientifically instrumented aircraft
and field experiments.


The International Graduate Summer School on Statistics and Climate
Modeling will provide a program of lectures, labs and field trips on
Statistics & Climate Modeling


The Graduate Institute’s Summer School in 2008 will be held at the
National Center for Atmospheric Research, a Center that provides a rich
learning environment that cannot be found elsewhere, even in
universities. Moreover its mission, to provide the university science
and teaching community with the tools, facilities, and support required
to perform innovate research, means it is well set-up for the School.
NCAR scientists have access to high-performance computational and
observational facilities, such as supercomputers needed to improve
human understanding of atmospheric and Earth system processes. And they
share these resources with university scientists through collaborative
research projects involving: atmospheric chemistry; climate; cloud
physics & storms; weather hazards to aviation & sun – Earth
interaction. Finally, members of the IMAGe (Institute for Mathematics
Applied to the Geosciences) have extensive experience with mathematical
and statistical modeling as well as the development of requisite
software for implementing them.
This course will exploit the NCAR/IMAGe environment to introduce
students to the topic of climate modeling in a serious way. It will
include the types of outputs they produce, and what tools there are for
visualizing and otherwise analyzing them. And it will help students
develop interdisciplinary research skills through interaction with
those NCAR scientists mentioned above.


The following schedule is provisional but reflects the relative emphasis of course topics:

August 9 Saturday:
* Foundations and methods for estimating curves and surfaces. (Nychka)
* Working with spatial data in R

August 10 Sunday afternoon
* Accessing and working with climate data (Sain, Nychka)

August 11 Monday
* Climate system modeling and interpreting model experiments (Tebaldi, Meehl)
* Scientific supercomputering and visualization

August 12 Tuesday
* Field trip(s)
* Statisical problems in predicting climate change at a local scale (Sain)

August 13
* Reconstructing past climate (Ammann)
* Statistical methods for inverse problems with climate proxies (Li)

Other Information: 

Application Procedures

Please click here to apply online. Because lab space is limited, applicant will be competitively selected. Application submissions should include a supporting letter from a faculty advisor in the case of graduate student applicants, and a resumé that describes your educational background as well as current program of studies. In the covering email, briefly describe how attending this course would benefit you in your research or other learning objectives

All applications must be made by June 15, 2008

The summer school is sponsored in part by the The National Science Foundation Collaboration in Mathematical Geosciences as well as The Pacific Institute of Mathematical Sciences



The workshop will be held at the Mesa Laboratory, National Center for
Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado 9 August - 13 August 2008.






Course Credits

Two credits for this course may be obtained through STAT 547 (2 Credits) at the University of British Columbia. That means in particular that students at Canadian PIMS universities should be able to obtain credit through existing inter-university credit sharing arrangements.
Evaluation: To obtain such credit on a pass – fail basis, a student will need to submit to one of the instructors, a report no longer than 5 pages in length (not counting figures and tables) no later than Aug 30, 2008. Details will be supplied at the Summer school.


Lecturer Websites

Stephan Sain, Geophysical Statistics Project, NCAR
Doug Nychka, IMAGe, NCAR
Claudia Tebaldi, Climate Central
Gerald Meehl, Climate and Global Dynamics Division, NCAR
Caspar Ammann, Climate and Global Dynamics Division, NCAR
Bo Li, Geophysical Statistics Project, NCAR and Department of Statistics, Pudue UniversityRichard Furrer, Colerado School of Mines


Financial Support

A number of competitive fellowships with stipends covering air travel, local transportation, lodging and meals are available for graduate students. Students are expected to be in residence for the entire week of the program. Applicants from underrepresented groups are especially encouraged.



The Institute's summer course is aimed primarily at graduate students who will come from a wide array of disciplines including applied mathematics, statistics, computational science, atmospheric and oceanic science amongst others. However, Postdoctoral Fellows in these areas as well as young investigators are strongly encouraged to apply. Applicants should have a background in master’s level statistics including some familiarity with linear models, regression, Bayesian statistics and multivariate analysis. Familiarity with the R statistical language is strongly suggested and students will be required to bring a laptop computer that will support R to participate in the lab part of the school.

Students are encouraged to contact Doug Nychka ( for questions about the necessary background knowledge and skills.



The Institute for Mathematics Applied to Geosciences (IMAGe) is a group within the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) for the purpose of advancing mathematical theory and its application to all facets of NCAR and the geophysical community at large. IMAGe is
substantially funded by the National Science Foundation. IMAGe is composed of four groups; the Data Assimilation Research Section, the Geophysical Statistics Project, the Turbulence Numerics Team, and the Computational Mathematics Group. For more information about IMAGe, including post-doc positions, please contact Doug Nychka.



NCAR was formed in 1960 and has a broad interdisciplinary research program involving more that 1000 employees of which several hundred hold advanced scientific or engineering degrees. The NCAR scientific program includes nearly all aspects of the atmosphere including climate and weather, atmospheric chemistry, ecology, instrumentation, scientific computing, and economic and societal impacts of atmospheric processes.