Ryan McNellis ’15


Computer Science

Project Title

Simulated and Observed Trends in Climate Variability

During my internship with PIRANHA (the Princeton Institute for Rainforests and the Amazon including their Nutrients, Hydrology, and the Atmosphere) in the Geosciences department of Princeton University, I examined the accuracy of mathematical models in predicting trends in climate variability over time, focusing specifically on daily scale surface solar radiation variability. I used the mathematical model output to examine future trends in climate variability and to determine the role of CO2 concentrations in influencing trends in variability. Climate variability is an area of study which is often overlooked; strong positive/negative trends in variability can have significant consequences for the ecosystems of affected areas. I conducted my research using output from 15 global climate models that contributed to the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 5 (CMIP5). This internship gave me the opportunity to experience what it would be like to have a career in the sciences. I have always been interested in applied math, and this project gave me a chance to see what the science side (as opposed to the financial/business side) of applied math is like. From this experience, I gained new skills in statistical analysis and in programming, especially working with the R programming language.

Internship Year


Project Category

Climate and Energy


Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey


David Medvigy, Assistant Professor, Geosciences