Mathematics of Climate Change

The Mathematics of Climate Change took place December 3rd, 2021. Selected talks were recorded and can be viewed here.

Event Description

Understanding and mitigating the effects of a changing climate stands to be a major societal, scientific, and industrial challenge of the 21st century, requiring contributions from across the sciences and engineering disciplines.  As governments and industry are adapting to this reality, new opportunities are opening for careers in many fields, both adapting to the impacts of climate change and working to mitigate changes through the development of green technology and energy.  Many of these careers, however, do not align with traditional academic disciplines, either because of the “niche” expertise needed or because they rely on inherently inter- and multi-disciplinary approaches to these challenges.  Given that, it is important and timely to ask “what skills from the mathematical sciences are important for careers in climate change?”.

This workshop features speakers from government and industry whose work now has a focus on questions surrounding climate change.  Their presentations will highlight both the areas of the mathematical sciences that are most relevant in their work, as well as how the skills they learned in their studies have informed their work in this area.  Topics will include adapting existing technologies to support transitions to green energy, and modelling the effects of changing climate on the world around us.  In addition to these presentations, an open Q&A session will be held, to allow a broader discussion of how the mathematical sciences play a role in this critical area.


All times listed are in mountain time (Calgary/Banff)

Thomas Jönsthövel– 10:00AM – 10:30AM

Josie Hughes – 10:30AM – 11:00AM

Patrick Grover – 11:00AM – 11:30AM

Audience Q&A – 11:30AM – 12:00PM


Thomas Jönsthövel

Program Manager, Schlumberger

Tom Jönsthövel studied Applied Mathematics at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. He completed his PhD in 2012, developing iterative solvers for large systems of linear equations. After his PhD he joined Schlumberger and worked in the United Kingdom, United States, and Norway, respectively. He specialized as a software engineer and architect in high-performance computing, but in recent years made a switch to program manager looking after energy transition projects around CCUS and offshore wind.

How mathematics can accelerate the energy transition – a perspective from industry

Climate change is, without a doubt, one of the challenges of our time. Many different techniques are required to address this problem head-on. Obviously, the introduction and scale-up of clean energy sources such as offshore wind, green hydrogen, and geothermal energy. But also, the usage of CCUS and prevention of methane flaring to mitigate the immediate effects of burning hydrocarbons. Schlumberger plays an active role and has solutions in all these areas. In this talk, I will discuss how mathematics is used in these products and how it helps accelerate the uptake, roll-out, and impact of these techniques.

Josie Hughes

Environment and Climate Change Canada, National Wildlife Research Centre

Josie Hughes (Environment and Climate Change Canada) is a Research Scientist at the National Wildlife Research Centre. She started building models of algal life cycle evolution as an undergraduate botany student at the University of British Columbia, and shifted to modelling forest insect population dynamics for her master’s and PhD (Simon Fraser University, University of Toronto). She spent several years as consultant to governments and ENGOS developing landcover change models, and as a postdoctoral fellow (York University) developing antimicrobial resistance models. In these diverse contexts she has worked to integrate ecological knowledge into decision making. Her current focus is models of the combined effects of changing natural and anthropogenic disturbance processes on boreal vegetation, and the implications of these changes for wildlife.

Development & Assessment of Tools for Projecting Cumulative Effects of Disturbance on Wildlife and Vegetation

I aim to improve the usefulness, reliability, transparency, and availability of tools for projecting cumulative effects of disturbance on wildlife and vegetation. Examples include development and assessment of tools for projecting development of resource roads, assessing the connectivity of protected areas, and projecting impacts of disturbance on boreal caribou demography and habitat use. The work also includes integration of these components into models of landscape change and wildlife impacts, assessing utility for decision support, identifying important deficits in available data and tools, looking for ways to address these deficits, and building our collective capacity for decision-relevant ecological forecasting. Sometimes, the bits of math I picked up over the years come in handy. I will use the examples to reflect on how my varied background prepared me for this work.

Patrick Grover

BGC Engineering

Dr. Grover is a Senior Hydrotechnical Engineer with BGC Engineering and has over 20 years of combined experience in research and applied science in consulting. Currently, he is a lead hydraulic modeller for flood hazard mapping projects across British Columbia for scopes on the order of $3M. For the past three years, Dr. Grover has been leading the development of hydrologic and hydrometeorological software tools at BGC. He has also been the lead modeler in several large hydrotechnical studies for major dams and tailings dam operators. Dr. Grover’s unique combined skills in hydraulic modelling, statistical hydrology, and software development has made him a key player in growing BGC’s data science and advanced analytics team. He is also involved in BGC’s climate change team, helping to develop methodologies to evaluate and project climate change impacts in hydrological systems.

Climate Change and the Built Environment – Perspective from an Applied Earth Sciences and Engineering Consulting Company

Climate change is posing an increasing threat on civil infrastructure such as pipelines, transportation networks, and communities. The combined wildfires following the heat dome over Lytton and subsequent catastrophic floods caused by an intense atmospheric river in British Columbia are an example of how a warming atmosphere is affecting our lives. Traditional approaches used by engineering and geoscience professionals to assess hazards such as flooding are based on the assumption of stationarity i.e. observations of historical rainfall and streamflow can be used to predict the likelihood of future events. Climate change invalidates this key assumption – and ignoring climate change in engineering design can have significant consequences, like under designing of hydraulic structures. Unfortunately, incorporating climate change into models and methods used to determine the likelihood of extreme events is not trivial and will require a multidisciplinary effort to develop solutions. This challenge for applied scientists opens up new opportunities for those in the mathematical sciences whose special skills will be necessary to work along side climate scientists, engineers, and geoscientists to develop these new solutions.

Event Videos

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