MIT IAP Program on Climate Science and Policy

Elly Rostoum | MIT Climate Change Blog
January 16, 2015

As part of its Independent Activities Period, this year, MIT is offering a program on climate science and policy sponsored by MIT’s Joint Program on Science and Policy of Global Change
. The program comprises four sessions led by MIT graduate students that provide students and the community with a unique opportunity to learn and engage on climate challenges.

In the first two sessions, the program covers fundamental features of the earth system and how they’re connected to each other (and to society).  Our exploration will revolve around aspects of climate and climate change, touching on the roles of the atmosphere, ocean, biosphere, and cryosphere in determining climate.  This science background will help contextualize the different global and local policies discussed in the Climate Policy lectures.

The second part of the IAP on Climate Science & Policy outlines how energy use and greenhouse gas emissions are linked to the world economy and the technologies we use. The sessions will also tackle how climate change impacts affect us, and discuss mitigation and adaptation options and instruments. It will also survey policies in place at global, domestic, and community levels, and major challenges and opportunities as the world works toward coordinated action.
The concluding session will be led by a panel of graduate students, and is designed to assist the navigation of climate science and policy news as it is reported in popular media outlets, demonstrating how to get to the details of the original, peer-reviewed research. The IAP Program on Climate Science and Policy is broken down as follows:

Climate 101: Elements of Climate System
January 26, 1-3pm, 4-237

History of climate science; radiation and the greenhouse effect; the hydrological cycle; land ecology and carbon storage; ocean ecology and heat transport; sea ice and ice sheets.

Climate 102: The Nonlinear Climate System
January 27, 1-3pm, 4-237

Structure and detection of climate change; metrics of climate change and irreversible warming; climate sensitivity and feedbacks; weather extremes and other impacts; climate and earth system modeling; uncertainties and current research trends.

Climate Policy 101
January 28, 1-3pm, 4-237

Evaluating policy, basic economic concepts, policy instruments, technology, and side effects.

Climate Policy 102
January 29,
1-3pm, 4-237
History, status and future of international (multi- and bi-lateral) policy negotiations, the road to Paris, sub-national discussions and challenges of climate policymaking.

How To Read Climate Science & Policy News
January 29, 1-3pm, 4-237

Every day climate science and policy shows up in popular media articles and headlines, entering the public discussion. The result is sometimes they become the subject of controversy. Join a graduate student panel to learn how to navigate past clumsy summaries, overhyped conclusions and political spin, to the details of research that advances our knowledge of climate change and the options for addressing it.

The MIT Climate Conversation is actively exploring new opportunities for teaching, conducting research, and continuing to stimulate the discussion on the important topic of climate change. In addition to this inaugural IAP course offering, the MIT Climate Conversation committee is also launching its Spring 2015 Lecture Series on climate issues. For more information, please see our upcoming events page.