This year's John Carlson Lecture was given by Royal Society Professor of Climate Physics at UK's Oxford University, Tim Palmer, who gave an engaging talk about the limitations of contemporary weather and climate forecast models, and how despite them, even for such an inherently chaotic system, there is still the possibility of making meaningful predictions.
Edward Lorenz's pioneering work on systems whose evolution is unpredictable and chaotic was motivated by a skepticism about the use of statistical models to predict next month's weather. And yet, on the web and elsewhere, one can find predictions not only of next month's weather, but also of the human effect on long-term climate. Can we have any confidence at all in long-range predictions of weather? And should we believe these estimates of human-induced climate change? Or is the whole notion of predicting long-term changes in climate misguided and unscientific?
The talk, to the packed Simons IMAX theater, was followed by a dinner for faculty, donors and guests in the Aquarium.
A Man for All Seasons (School of Science Profile of John Carlson)