Last week I attended “MECC 2013” – the International Conference and Advanced School Planet Earth, Mathematics of Energy and Climate Change, Portugal, 21-28 March 2013.
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 some recent work I have been doing on climate extremes (assessing the evidence that extreme events are becoming more frequent and to what extent this can be attributed to the human influence). Another keynote speaker was my North Carolina colleague Chris Jones, who gave his talk by video link from Chapel Hill – a venture that was largely successful, though there were some technical glitches.
Associated with the conference was an Advanced School that included additional lectures by some of the keynote speakers at the University of Lisbon. I was one of the speakers at that as well, and so gave a morning of lectures to graduate students and faculty, mostly from the Statistics department of the university. It was pleasant to catch up with a number of old friends and colleagues from that department.
Overall, it was an enjoyable experience and a good opportunity to learn about some of the work being done in Portugal on these important topics. The only disappointment was that there was not a larger attendance – the facilities of the Gulbenkian could easily have accommodated more people.
University of North Carolina and SAMSI