Environment

Climate change is here to stay, says Big Data

By now, most sci­en­tists—97 per­cent of them, to be exact—agree that the temperature of the planet is rising and that the increase is due to human activities such as fossil fuel use and defor­esta­tion. But until recently, the jury was still out regarding the vari­ability sur­rounding that increase—for example, how much dif­fer­ence there will be between the hottest hot days from one year to the next, as well as with each year’s coldest cold days.

Some studies sug­gested an increase in vari­ability, others a decrease. The problem with these results, said Evan Kodra, PhD’14, is that none of them took a sys­tem­atic approach to gleaning that answer. Each was exam­ining some other phenomenon—such as whether a par­tic­ular region would expe­ri­ence overall warming—and the vari­ability data was a sec­ondary, but inter­esting, finding.

That’s why Kodra and his adviser Auroop Gan­guly, a cli­mate change expert and asso­ciate pro­fessor in Northeastern’s Depart­ment of Civil and Envi­ron­mental Engi­neering, decided to take a dif­ferent approach in their paper pub­lished online on Wednesday in the journal Sci­en­tific Reports, pub­lished by Nature. Their work was per­formed in Northeastern’s Sus­tain­ability and Data Sci­ences Lab­o­ra­tory run by Ganguly.

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