CSC2600: Topics in Computer Science:
Climate Change Informatics
(Winter term 2011)
- Wednesday Jan 5, 2011: Draft course outline posted. Comments welcome!.
About the Course
This introductory course will explore the contribution of computer science to the challenge of climate change, including: the role of computational models in understanding earth systems, the numerical methods at the heart of these models, and the software engineering techniques by which they are built, tested and validated; challenges in management of earth system data, such as curation, provenance, meta-data description, openness and reproducibility; tools for communication of climate science to broader audiences, such as simulations, games, educational software, collective intelligence tools, and the challenges of establishing reputation and trustworthiness for web-based information sources; decision-support tools for policymaking and carbon accounting, including the challenges of data collection, visualization, and trade-off analysis; the design of green IT, such as power-aware computing, smart controllers and the development of the smart grid.
The aim is to bring a broad range of computer science graduate students together, to explore how their skills and knowledge in various areas of computer science can be applied to a societal grand challenge problem. The course will equip the students with a basic understanding of the challenges in tackling climate change, and will draw a strong link between the studentsí disciplinary background and a series of inter-disciplinary research questions. The course crosscuts most areas of computer science.
General Course Resources
- Classes: Fridays, 10am-12pm, BA3187 (until January 28th 2011) and then Thursdays, 10am-12pm, BA5256 except for:
- NOTE: for the week of Feb 14 only, we'll meet on Wed rather than Thursday: Wed Feb 16, 11am-1pm, BA7172
- NOTE: No seminar in the week of Feb 21, as it's reading week.
- Course discussion board (coming soon)
Seminar Notes & Weekly Readings
teaching materials on this website are available for use under a Creative
Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License,
except where noted otherwise. Links to journal articles should work from anywhere
on campus, via the U of T institutional subscription - let me know if they don't. Please respect the copyrights on all material on this site.
Part 1: The Science of Climate Change
- Week 1: Introduction, Overview, and Motivation for the Course.
- Week 2: Computational Challenges in Climate Science
- Week 3: Software and Data Challenges in Climate Science
Part 2: Frameworks for Thinking about Climate Change
- Week 4: Ethical Frameworks
- a top down view
- Week 5: Community Action - a bottom up view
- Week 6: Computational Thinking and Systems Thinking
Part 3: Knowledge Management and Decision Support
- Week 7: Usable Climate Science: Retrieval, Reputability, and Usability
- Week 8: Open Science, Open Source, Citizen Science
- Introductory Papers (read these before the seminar!): Barrett and Sowe, "Could Climate Science Become Open Source?", Willinsky "The Unacknowledged Convergence of Open Source, Open Access, and Open Science", and Malone et al "The Collective Intelligence Genome",
- See also: Tovey "Mass collaboration, open source, and social entrepreneurship", Masum and Tovey "Given Enough Minds...Bridging the Ingenuity Gap" Carroll et al "Distributing Science", and Rood, "Open Source Communities, What Are the Problems? Open Climate Models (Blog post)"
- Bonus - we also talked in class about the Stabilization Wedges idea: the stabilization triangle and the idea of stabilization wedges (from Princeton U's Carbon Mitigation Initiative); A more recent update with more wedges (from National Geographic - see also the learn more section);Another view of a set of possible stabilization wedges (from Stenger's blog)
- Week 9: Computational Sustainability (incl. planning and decision support):
Part 4: Computing and Sustainability
- Week 10: Carbon Accounting and Building the Smart Grid
- Week 11: Green IT and power-aware computing
- Week 12: Decision-Making Under Uncertainty
- Participation in the course seminars, including leading the discussion on one of the weekly readings (10%)
- Term project: Write a proposal for a research project in climate change informatics. The proposal should describe how you would apply ideas from advanced computer science research to tackle some aspect of climate change. The proposal should include a description of the background work you are drawing on, a plan for the research itself, and details of any collaborative relationships that will be needed with experts in other disciplines.
- Plan a research project that would take 1-3 years to complete, with a team of at least one grad student and at least one professor. Plan for a bigger team if you like.
- Think about research that would contribute to computer science (e.g. by stretching the capabilities of existing techniques) as well as offering potential solutions to problems in some aspect of climate science, climate policy, green engineering, sustainability, etc.
- Write up your proposal using the outline for an NSERC Strategic Grant. You don't need to provide details on costings, nor on the research team; hence the only sections of NSERC's form 101that are relevant are the "summary for the public release" (1/2 page), and the main proposal (max 11 pages including figures and references). Follow the NSERC formatting instructions!
- Due Date: April 29, 2011