Professor Emanuel’s Abstract of His Presentation
In this talk, I will provide a broad overview of climate science, including the history of the
science itself, and what we have learned about the Earth’s climate system through analysis of paleoclimate data, the instrumental record, and, most importantly, the fundamental physics, chemistry, and biology underlying the climate system. Projections of future climates, made using both simple and complex models, will be discussed, with an emphasis on sources of uncertainty together with an assessment of whether and to what extent the level of uncertainty can be reduced. Toward the end of the talk, the problem of global warming will be framed as a problem of risk assessment and management, including the difficulties in dealing with fat-tailed risk probabilities, and various technical and policy options for dealing with climate change will be described. This last discussion will include the various options for energy generation.
A Brief Bio
Dr. Kerry Emanuel is the Cecil and Ida Green professor of atmospheric science at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he has been on the faculty since 1981,
after spending three years on the faculty of UCLA. Professor Emanuel’s research
interests focus on tropical meteorology and climate, with a specialty in hurricane physics.
His interests also include cumulus convection, and advanced methods of sampling the
atmosphere in aid of numerical weather prediction. He is the author or co-author of over
200 peer-reviewed scientific papers, and two books, including Divine Wind: The History
and Science of Hurricanes, published by Oxford University Press and aimed at a general
audience, and What We Know about Climate Change, published by the MIT Press. He is
a co-director of MIT’s Lorenz Center, a climate think tank devoted to basic, curiosity-driven