2018 MIT Independent Activities Period Courses: Climate Science and Policy

January 16, 2018, 5:30pm - January 19, 2018, 6:30pm


Tuesday, Jan 16

Climate Science 101: Warmer Things

5:30 PM – 6:30 PM • Ellen Lalk and Meghana Ranganathan

An overview of climate science: what comprises climate, relevant factors in climate system, how climate has changed in the past versus how it is changing now.

Climate Change: The Nexus of Economics and Policy

6:30 PM – 7:30 PM • Sika Gadzanku and Anthony Fratto Oyler

In order to address climate change, policy makers must be able to address the economics of implementation, risk uncertainty, and information assessment. This session will give a brief overview of these tools and their relationship to the foundation of climate policy.

Wednesday, Jan 17

Climate Science 102: Climate feedbacks and tipping points

5:30 PM – 6:30 PM • Ali Ramadhan and Warittha Panasawatwong 

Embedded within the climate system are many nonlinear feedback systems and possible tipping points in the climate system, making prediction of future climate difficult. We will discuss such mechanisms of the climate system, Earth system models, the role of clouds, oceans, land cover, and biology in the climate system, and how extreme weather relates to climate change.

The Politics of Climate Change: A global perspective

6:30 PM – 7:30 PM • Sika Gadzanku and Anthony Fratto Oyler 

Political values and priorities drive climate policy. In this session, we will use examples from the European Union and African countries to highlight the very real challenges of designing effective climate policy.

Thursday, Jan 18

Predicting future climate when weather forecasting is difficult enough

5:30 PM – 6:30 PM • Ali Ramadhan, Warittha Panasawatwong, and Meghana Ranganathan

The weather in a few days can be difficult to predict, especially with certain processes such as thunderstorms. If this is the case, then how can we trust climate projections over several decades? We'll discuss the similarities and differences between predicting next week's weather and the climate in 2100 and how they allow us to make confident climate projections.

Climate Policy and Local Initiatives: The role of energy efficiency

6:30 PM – 7:30 PM • Philip Eash-Gates

Local governments are uniquely positioned to curb greenhouse gas emissions. This discussion will review policies and programs in energy efficiency and their important role in mitigating climate change.

Friday, Jan 19 

Analyzing a Clean Energy Future

5:30 PM – 6:30 PM • Jessica Farrell

This section will explore the costs and competitiveness of various energy generation technologies (including fossil-fuels, renewables, nuclear, and newer technologies) in a low-carbon future and give participants tools to be able to analyze other technologies.  Included in this discussion will be topics on intermittency, energy storage, and distributed generation.

Speaker Bios

Sika Gadzanku: Sika is a graduate student in the Technology and Policy Program. Her research is on climate resilience, energy technologies and policies in African countries.

Ali Ramadhan: Ali is a physicist using a mix of models and observations to understand Earth’s climate. He is currently working on interactions between sea ice and winds in the Antarctic sea ice zone. Previously, he worked on creating molecular movies and on light-matter interactions in a dark laser laboratory.

Warittha Panasawatwong: Warittha studies atmospheric science with focus on Southeast Asian climate. Her current research topic is on analyzing Southeast Asian monsoon precipitation data and its impacting factor.

Meghana Ranganathan: Meghana is a PhD student specializing in atmospheric science and dynamics. She studies the intersection of applied mathematics, computer science and atmospheric science. Her previous research was on the structure of El Nino-Southern Oscillation forecasts and the skills of models in predicting ENSO cycles.

Ellen Lalk: Ellen is a PhD student studying Chemical Oceanography. She studies methane abundance and isotopes in deep subseafloor marine sediments in order to study the limits and metabolisms of microbial life kilometers below the bottom of the ocean. Her previous research looked at early food webs and the role of grain isotopes in tracking the agricultural exchange of crops like millet.

Anthony Fratto Oyler: Anthony is a graduate student in the Technology and Policy Program. His current research looks at the future of energy storage. Previous experience includes energy technology and policy related work in research labs, the public sector and industry.

Philip Eash-Gates: Philip is a graduate student in the Technology & Policy Program at MIT and a research assistant in the Trancik lab. He received his B.S. in Engineering Science from Trinity University in 2008. Before joining MIT, he served as the first Energy Manager of the City of San Antonio and as the Director of Efficiency Projects for CVAL Innovations, an energy engineering startup. Previous work experience includes development of building energy conservation codes, management of community-based sustainability programs, and implementation of innovative energy projects.


Registration is FREE. We kindly request an advanced registration as it will allow us to stay in touch with you for future IAP activities and we will also send talks materials to registered participants.