MECC2013 – Richard Smith’s Notes from Portugal

The following was written by Richard Smith, Director of SAMSI.

Last week I attended “MECC 2013” – the International Conference and Advanced School Planet Earth, Mathematics of Energy and Climate Change, in Portugal, March 21-28, 2013.

This was one of the two Portuguese research conferences linked to MPE2013, Mathematics of the Planet Earth. The main part of the conference took place over two and a half days in the magnificent Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation building in the center of Lisbon (as I discovered while there, the same building is also the concert hall of the Gulbenkian Orchestra – one night I went to a fine performance of the Brahms Requiem). There were fourteen keynote speakers as well as “thematic sessions” covering numerous aspects of mathematics, statistics and economics associated with climate change, renewable energy and related themes. I was one of the keynote speakers, and talked about recent work on climate extremes. Another keynote speaker with SAMSI connections was Chris Jones, of the UNC Math department and former Associate Director of SAMSI. Chris gave his talk by video link from Chapel Hill, which worked fine for most of his talk, though the communication was all one way: we could hear Chris just fine, but he could not hear us. Chris later commented to me that he found this very strange, though the talk was excellent. Other speakers covered topics such as solar energy and the economics of sustainability.

While I was there, they also asked me (along with several of the other visitors) to give some lectures at the University of Lisbon. So on the last day of my visit, I spoke for three hours to an audience that was mostly from the Statistics department of the University. I have had long connections with the Portuguese statistics community dating back to the first international conference on extreme value theory, which took place in Portugal in 1983. It was good to meet up with several old friends.

Richard Smith

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