Faculty wins NSF CAREER Award to model structure of extreme weather eventsPosted on July 17, 2018
University Park, PA– One Penn State professor is seeking to create spatial statistical models for extreme events such as large forest fires, floods and heavy rainstorms to help make better decisions on infrastructure, preparation and mitigation.
Benjamin Shaby, assistant professor of statistics and Penn State Institute for CyberScience faculty co-hire, has received a National Science Foundation CAREER award for his project titled “Hierarchical Models for Spatial Extremes.”
NSF CAREER awards support junior faculty who demonstrate the role of being both a teacher and a scholar through research, education, outreach and the integration of all three.
“I commend Ben for receiving such a reputable award. His various collaborations highlight the kind of interdisciplinary work ICS is doing within Penn State and the broader scientific community,” ICS Director and Professor of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science Jenni Evans said. “The mission of ICS is to reach out, work with other researchers and to build connections while answering critical scientific and societal questions through high-performance computing.”
The CAREER award will support Shaby’s collaborations with groups such as the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Sustainable Climate Risk Management (SCRiM) program.
SCRiM links a transdisciplinary team of scholars at 19 universities and five research institutions across six nations to answer the question, “What are sustainable, scientifically sound, technologically feasible, economically efficient and ethically defensible climate risk management strategies?”
Shaby will investigate the extreme events that pose these risks by utilizing computationally intensive research methods. Leveraging ICS Advanced Cyberinfrastructure (ICS-ACI) and Penn State’s research supercomputer, Shaby is seeking to create spatial models for extreme events in relation to weather. Events such as heat waves, storm surges and flooding can all be classified as extreme.
“We have really good spatial models for things that happen all the time like daily temperatures, and those models have been studied for a long time,” Shaby said. “Understanding the spatial extent of an extreme event, like the hottest heat wave, is what really matters for impact but we don’t have good models for these kinds of things yet.”
To understand these extreme events and what makes them extreme, the knowledge of magnitude at a single location, such as how many inches of rain fall at a particular gauge, is not enough. Shaby’s research is trying to understand the spatial structures of these events to figure out exactly how much area these extreme events can cover.
“If we have an extreme event, we have thermometers and rain gauges but we don’t get to look at the whole event,” Shaby said. “We only get to measure it at particular locations. We need new models to turn individual observations into knowledge about the spatial structure of the entire event.”
Shaby says that extreme events are difficult to study because very little data is available to inform our understanding of them. Extreme events are the ones that have the biggest impact, but because they’re extreme, not many of them are seen.
Shaby said that in addition to their spatial extent, another aspect of the spatial structure of extreme events is how smooth they are.
“Spatial structure is very tricky, because some events can be smooth, meaning that they cover an area fully,” Shaby said. “Some events can also be patchy, meaning that they may cover some areas of a region and not others. This can make modeling difficult.”
The emphasis of the project is to develop the mathematical models of the rare events. Shaby’s research goals are to develop models that realistically describe extreme events in space that can be fit to large datasets and to apply those models to the problems such as flood, fire and future coastal risk.
“I want to make models that help us get a clearer picture of the risks we face from extreme weather and climate events so that we can prepare for and mitigate them more effectively,” Shaby said.
- Featured Researcher: Nick Tusay
- Multi-institutional team to use AI to evaluate social, behavioral science claims
- NSF invests in cyberinfrastructure institute to harness cosmic data
- Center for Immersive Experiences set to debut, serving researchers and students
- Distant Suns, Distant Worlds
- CyberScience Seminar: Researcher to discuss how AI can help people avoid adverse drug interactions
- AI could offer warnings about serious side effects of drug-drug interactions
- Taking RTKI drugs during radiotherapy may not aid survival, worsens side effects
- Cost-effective cloud research computing options now available for researchers
- Costs of natural disasters are increasing at the high end
- Model helps choose wind farm locations, predicts output
- Virus may jump species through ‘rock-and-roll’ motion with receptors
- Researchers seek to revolutionize catalyst design with machine learning
- Resilient Resumes team places third in Nittany AI Challenge
- ‘AI in Action’: Machine learning may help scientists explore deep sleep
- Clickbait Secrets Exposed! Humans and AI team up to improve clickbait detection
- Focusing computational power for more accurate, efficient weather forecasts
- How many Earth-like planets are around sun-like stars?
- Professor receives NSF grant to model cell disorder in heart
- SMH! Brains trained on e-devices may struggle to understand scientific info
- Whole genome sequencing may help officials get a handle on disease outbreaks
- New tool could reduce security analysts’ workloads by automating data triage
- Careful analysis of volcano’s plumbing system may give tips on pending eruptions
- Reducing farm greenhouse gas emissions may plant the seed for a cooler planet
- Using artificial intelligence to detect discrimination
- Four ways scholars say we can cut the chances of nasty satellite data surprises
- Game theory shows why stigmatization may not make sense in modern society
- Older adults can serve communities as engines of everyday innovation
- Pig-Pen effect: Mixing skin oil and ozone can produce a personal pollution cloud
- Researchers find genes that could help create more resilient chickens
- Despite dire predictions, levels of social support remain steady in the U.S.
- For many, friends and family, not doctors, serve as a gateway to opioid misuse
- New algorithm may help people store more pictures, share videos faster
- Head named for Ken and Mary Alice Lindquist Department of Nuclear Engineering
- Scientific evidence boosts action for activists, decreases action for scientists
- People explore options, then selectively represent good options to make difficult decisions
- Map reveals that lynching extended far beyond the deep South
- Gravitational forces in protoplanetary disks push super-Earths close to stars
- Supercomputer cluster donation helps turn high school class into climate science research lab
- Believing machines can out-do people may fuel acceptance of self-driving cars
- People more likely to trust machines than humans with their private info
- IBM donates system to Penn State to advance AI research
- ICS Seed Grants to power projects that use AI, machine learning for common good
- Penn State Berks team advances to MVP Phase of Nittany AI Challenge
- Creepy computers or people partners? Working to make AI that enhances humanity
- Sky is clearing for using AI to probe weather variability
- ‘AI will see you now’: Panel to discuss the AI revolution in health and medicine
- Privacy law scholars must address potential for nasty satellite data surprises
- Researchers take aim at hackers trying to attack high-value AI models
- Girls, economically disadvantaged less likely to get parental urging to study computers
- Seed grants awarded to projects using Twitter data
- Researchers find features that shape mechanical force during protein synthesis
- A peek at living room decor suggests how decorations vary around the world
- Interactive websites may cause antismoking messages to backfire
- Changing how government assesses risk may ease fallout from extreme financial events
- Institute for CyberScience announces 2018 ICS Seed Grant recipients
- Mechanical force controls the speed of protein synthesis
- National Science Foundation Budget Update for FY18 and FY19
- Choosing the best supercomputer for your research