Preparing future scientists to help solve the biggest challenges facing the Earth

How are scientists able to predict the complex and chaotic reality of global weather and climate? The answer: by turning the fiendishly complicated natural processes of Planet Earth into sophisticated mathematical equations – and being able to interpret the results.

Now some of the world’s leading organisations for the study of weather and climate are creating a new £16million centre to train the next generation of mathematical scientists, giving them the skills they need to help answer some of the world’s biggest problems. The creation of a new Mathematics of Planet Earth Centre for Doctoral Training was announced by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

This new research training centre, will provide mathematical training spanning from data-driven statistics to creating models of the Earth system. It will train 76 highly skilled mathematical scientists to become future leaders in innovative research, developing prediction technologies, interpreting colossal data sets relating to the Earth system, and modelling risk associated with extreme weather and climate change. Building on large existing research links, the new centre will be a partnership, jointly led between the Department of Mathematics and Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College, and the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences (SMPS) at Reading. The centre will be established with considerable levels of investment from  EPSRC, the two Universities, plus a substantial funding contribution from 17 external partners, who will work with Reading and Imperial to deliver PhD training through new collaborative partnerships and co-supervising PhD projects. These partners include the UK Met Office and the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts, representatives of the insurance, water, energy and marine sectors, and leading international research centres across Europe and the US.

Professor Beatrice Pelloni, University of Reading, the Deputy Director of MPECDT, said: “I am delighted to be involved in this exciting project.  The topic, vision and practice of this CDT will provide a radically new type of training, and I am confident this will prepare and inspire a new generation of mathematical scientists, empowering them to understand and control the very great challenges our planet is facing.”

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