TILclimate: Uncertainty

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

EAPS Cecil & Ida Green Professor of Atmospheric Science Kerry Emanuel breaks down what scientists mean by "uncertainty" when it comes to modeling the complex climate system, how researchers quantify these characteristics through parameterization and how these "uncertainties" factor into risk assessment for climate change.

Listen and read the transcript at TILclimate.

How do we make choices in the face of uncertainty? In this episode of TILclimate (Today I Learned: Climate), MIT professor Kerry Emanuel joins host Laur Hesse Fisher to talk about climate risk. Together, they break down why the climate system is so hard to predict, what exactly scientists mean when they talk about “uncertainty”, and how scientists quantify and assess the risks associated with climate change. Although this uncertainty shrinks every day — as researchers refine their work, computing power grows, and models improve — what we do and how quickly we act will ultimately come down to how much risk we are willing to accept.

Kerry Emanuel is also the co-founder and co-director of the MIT Lorenz Center. In 2006, he was included in Time Magazine’s “100 People who Shape Our World”. Through his decades of experience studying the atmosphere and earth’s climate, Prof. Emanuel focuses on trying to quantify the risks of these anthropogenic (human-caused) changes, especially focusing on hurricanes.

About TILclimate: This MIT podcast breaks down the science, technologies, and policies behind climate change, how it’s impacting us, and what we can do about it. Each quick episode gives you the what, why, and how on climate change -- from real scientists -- to help us make informed decisions for our future. Listen on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. The podcast is supported by the MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative.