Brian Huang, 2013, Computer Science

This summer, while working with Claudie Beaulieu in Professor Jorge Sarmiento’s group in the Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, I examined possible ­applications of bifurcation theory to predict tipping points in the Earth’s climate system. In the past, bifurcation theory has been applied, in fields like physics and economics, to analyze changes in the states of systems. In the past decade, some have begun applying it to our terrestrial climate system, proposing metrics to predict catastrophic regime shifts (“tipping points”) in our climate, with the goal of providing early warnings for future ­tipping points. My work involved comparing and evaluating the power of these metrics with an eye towards improving them. Most of my work involved analyzing ­paleoclimate datasets in Matlab, which I have become very comfortable doing. I also experienced firsthand the power of scientific collaboration and learned a great deal about our ­climate history and the academic process. The Sarmiento group is incredibly ­welcoming and supportive. My experiences with them this summer have made me seriously consider climate research in grad school.