Report on Advanced Statistics Training on Climate Research 2019

The “Advanced Statistics Training for Climate Research” course took place at the Geophysics Institute at the University of Bergen from the 19 to 22 August, 2019.  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 deep understanding of modern statistical modelling concepts, as well as the practical ability to apply and interpret statistical methods using the R software for statistical computing. The course consisted of two theoretical lectures and two practical programming sessions each day, covering a wide range of topics such as Bayesian inference, linear modelling, multivariate statistics, time series analysis, spatial modelling, and extreme value statistics. Students were also encouraged to bring along their own research problems and data sets for discussion.

The course was attended by 8 highly motivated participants. All students are actively involved in a diverse range of climate-related research areas such as ice-sheet modelling, physical oceanography, and marine biophysical modelling. The sessions on multivariate analysis and spatial statistics were particularly well received, with several requests for follow-up courses. In addition to lecturing about state-of-the-art statistical methods, and teaching the use of the R programming language, the lecturers helped some of the students to apply advanced methods to their own research problems. Some impressive progress was made on a number of research problems, such as spatial smoothing of ocean temperature measurements, and extracting predictable signals from ensemble climate forecasts.

The lecturers were impressed by the students’ high level of engagement and their mathematical competence, and look forward to coming to Bergen again next year.

Written by Stefan Siegert and David Stephenson