The “Advanced Statistics Training for Climate Research” course, organised by CHESS, took place at the Geophysics Institute at the University of Bergen from 22-25 August, 2017. The course was delivered by Prof. David Stephenson and Dr. Stefan Siegert from the Department of Mathematics at the University of Exeter.
The course aims to give climate scientists a deeper appreciation of statistical concepts and modelling, and awareness of some relevant areas of modern statistics, and the practical ability to apply statistical methods and interpret them using the powerful free statistical language R. The course consists of a mixture of lectures with two practical hands on sessions using R each day. Topics covered included probability and inference, linear modelling, multivariate statistics, time series modelling, spatial statistics and extreme value modelling. Students were also encouraged to bring along their own research problems for discussion.
The course was attended by 11 participants. The students were all actively involved in climate research in Norway at the University of Bergen, the University of Tromsø, the University of Oslo, and NILU. An initial discussion revealed that despite regularly using statistics in their research, the students had received little postgraduate training in statistics. Furthermore, none of the students had experience in using the R statistical language, which has become the de facto software used by statisticians for modelling.
The course was very well received as revealed by the evaluation scores, which generally were above 4/5 with many above 4.5/5. In addition, to learning about modern statistical reasoning and developing the ability to use the R language, some of the students were delighted to have gained new insights on how to analyse their own data and problems.
Written by David Stephenson