Report on the “Advanced Statistics for Climate Resesarch” course

A group photo taken on a sunny day

The “Advanced Statistics Training for Climate Research” course took place at the Geophysics Institute at the University of Bergen from 13-16 August, 2018.  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.

at the interactive R session

The course was attended by 13 participants. The students were all actively involved in a diverse range of climate-related research areas such as paleoclimate, renewable wind power, and hydrometeorology. An initial discussion revealed that despite regularly using statistics in their research, only two of the students had experience in using the R statistical language, which is now the de facto software used by statisticians for modelling.

In addition to learning about modern statistical reasoning and developing the ability to use the R language, some of the students gained additional insights into how to analyse their own data and problems e.g. extracting signals from coral records, modelling highly skewed river flows, and comparing past and future extremes in simulated precipitation.

Written by David Stephenson

view the program details