More than 100 scientific societies, universities, research institutes, and organizations all over the world have banded together to dedicate 2013 as a special year for the Mathematics of Planet Earth.
Our planet is the setting for dynamic processes of all sorts, including the geophysical processes in the mantle, the continents, and the oceans, the atmospheric processes that determine our weather and climates, the biological processes involving living species and their interactions, and the human processes of finance, agriculture, water, transportation, and energy. The challenges facing our planet and our civilization are multidisciplinary and multifaceted, and the mathematical sciences play a central role in the scientific effort to understand and to deal with these challenges.
The mission of the MPE project is to:
- Encourage research in identifying and solving fundamental questions about planet earth
- Encourage educators at all levels to communicate the issues related to planet earth
- Inform the public about the essential role of the mathematical sciences in facing the challenges to our planet
MPE2013 has now reached the breadth of an international year under the patronage of UNESCO. MPE2013 is run by its partners. The partners, mostly scientific institutes, learned societies, international organizations, associations of teachers have committed to organize scientific and outreach activities on the theme. For several years already, an intense planning of scientific activities is taking place all over the world. Many research institutes will host long-term programs, workshops and summer schools throughout 2013. The learned societies or teachers associations introduce MPE components in their congresses, with related plenary or public lectures, and special sessions. They also organize outreach activities on MPE topics. An international competition of museum quality exhibits (modules) will produce the basis of an Open Source MPE virtual Exhibition, which will be officially launched at the Headquarters of UNESCO in Paris on March 5 2013.
MPE2013 is born from the will of the world mathematical community to learn more about the challenges faced by our planet and the underlying mathematical problems, and to increase the research effort on these issues. Indeed, the recent tendencies have increased the pressure to comprehend the planet and its environment: growing population competing for the same global resources, increased frequency and intensity of dramatic meteorological events, and evidence pointing to longer term patterns of general climate change. Mathematicians have an expertise in modelling and solving problems. MPE2013 creates exceptional opportunities for long-term partnerships, both inside the mathematical sciences and with other related scientific disciplines. It will allow training a new generation of researchers working on scientific problems related to climate change and sustainability.
In parallel to the scientific component, the outreach component of MPE2013 illustrates for the public and for the schools the role of mathematical sciences to help tackling some of the world’s most pressing problems. It will permit to motivate kids in schools by providing stimulating answers to questions like “What is mathematics useful for?”
The theme “Mathematics of Planet Earth” is interpreted as broadly as possible. In addition to climate change and sustainability, it includes geophysics, ecology and epidemiology, biodiversity, as well as the global organization of the planet by humans. The different topics have been classified into four themes.
The four themes of MPE2013:
- A PLANET TO DISCOVER: oceans; meteorology and climate; mantle processes, natural resources, solar systems
- A PLANET SUPPORTING LIFE: ecology, biodiversity, evolution
- A PLANET ORGANIZED BY HUMANS: political, economic, social and financial systems; organization of transport and communications networks; management of resources; Energy
- A PLANET AT RISK: climate change, sustainable development, epidemics; invasive species, natural disasters
Hence, Mathematics of Planet Earth attracts researchers with a very wide range of expertise. Their increased collaboration and efforts in capacity building will last: Mathematics of Planet Earth will continue past 2013.