Where can you find applied math for the classroom?

On my Briefed by Data site, I’ve started doing a monthly post called Classroom Connections. The idea is to list a number of articles where the math could possibly be used in the classroom. The level ranges from engaging graphs and basic math to modeling and data science. For example (related to the graph here),

This paper, Electric and gasoline vehicle total cost of ownership across US cities (1/3/2024), goes through the calculations to estimate the return on investment of an electric vehicle. The math is just arithmetic, but a lot can be done with just arithmetic. Great for a project of some sort, and more can be done. For example, if the payoff for the care is 10 years, but you only plan to keep it for 5 years, is it worth it? Can it be resold to make up for the initial investment? What economic level does one need to be at to be able to make the investment in an EV as opposed to an ICE?

Find more examples at Classroom connections for February 3, 2024.

Are coral reefs recovering faster?

From Past disturbances and local conditions influence the recovery rates of coral reefs (1/10/2024)

Since the 1970s, coral cover in the Atlantic Ocean has decreased fourfold, and recovery rates following disturbances have been relatively low, except in the Antilles where recovery rates have recently increased. By contrast, coral cover and recovery rates in the Pacific and Indian Oceans have remained moderate over time, and recovery rates have even increased in some ecoregions such as in the Coral Triangle region.

More on this and other stuff in this past week’s Quick Takes at Briefed by Data.

How hot was November 2023?

I posted this update on global temperatures in my most recent Quick Takes on Briefed by Data. As expected, 2023 set a record for November temperature, as can be seen in the graph. The last bar in black will be classified as El Niño, and while the record looks extreme, it is largely following the pattern of the red bars. From the NOAA report for November 2023, which includes links to the data:

The November global surface temperature was 1.44°C (2.59°F) above the 20th-century average of 12.9°C (55.2°F), making it the warmest November on record. This was 0.38°C (0.68°F) above the previous record from November 2015. November 2023 marked the 47th-consecutive November and the 537th-consecutive month with temperatures at least nominally above the 20th-century average.

November saw a record-high monthly global ocean surface temperature for the eighth consecutive month. El Niño conditions that emerged in June continued into November, and according to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center there is a 60% chance that El Niño will continue through April–June 2024.

Here is the graph for all months for context. Again, note that the last few months are in line with the anomalies during El Niño. I’ll have more to say about this in a future post.

How hot was Oct 2023?

The October temperature anomaly was a top-5 anomaly overall and a record for October, but this shouldn’t be surprising. If one follows the red bars and El Niño months, the 2023 anomaly follows that trend, and the expectation is that October 2023 will officially be an El Niño month. Expect more record monthly anomalies because (from NOAA)

El Niño conditions that emerged in June continued into October, and according to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center there is an 80% chance that El Niño will continue through the Northern Hemisphere spring (March–May 2024).

NOAA has the time series data. More on this and other notes can be found in my Briefed by Data Quick Takes post.

What will it take to run the U.S. on electricity?

That is the title of a recent post on Briefed by Data. The graph here, from that post, shows our current electricity consumption and what we would need to add to move all cars to electric.

How does this compare to existing electricity generation? Figure 1 has the answer. We currently use somewhat more than 4 trillion kWh of electricity. If all vehicles were converted to electric, we would require an additional 7 trillion kWh of electricity.

Read more: What will it take to run the U.S. on electricity?

Did you read classroom connections?

Over at Briefed by Data I’ve started doing a classroom connections post. I include material that I think could be used in a classroom somehow. The topics will vary based on what I’ve run into. This past one includes a range of math being used, from calculus and statistics to modeling to data science. The graph here is from an article that did hierarchical clustering, and the data is available. Click the link if you are looking for classroom ideas.

How hot was Sept 2023?

September 2023 set a record for a monthly anomaly, but when you read something that says it was surprising, outrageous, crazy, etc., you are being misled. As far as I’m concerned, this is the media making matters worse. A new record anomaly like September is expected, and, in fact, it will happen again. Suggesting that scientists didn’t know this implies that they aren’t credible. Please read the full argument here and while you are there, subscribe to my Substack Briefed by Data. You can subscribe for free and get data-based articles right in your inbox.

Summary from NOAA, which has the data available:

The September global surface temperature was 1.44°C (2.59°F) above the 20th-century average of 15.0°C (59.0°F), making it the warmest September on record. September 2023 marked the 49th-consecutive September and the 535th-consecutive month with temperatures at least nominally above the 20th-century average. September 2023 was 0.46°C (0.83°F) above the previous record from September 2020, and marks the largest positive monthly global temperature anomaly of any month on record. The September 2023 global temperature anomaly surpassed the previous record-high monthly anomaly from March 2016 by 0.09°C (0.16°F). The past ten Septembers (2014–2023) have been the warmest Septembers on record.

Looking for a Climate/Math Faculty Job?


I’m doing this post as a favor and because this is a unique faculty position that I’m happy to promote. If you are interested or know someone who might be then please pass it along.

Harvey Mudd College invites applications for a tenure-track position, beginning Fall 2024, at the assistant professor level. Exceptional candidates at higher ranks will be considered. The position is jointly held through the Hixon Center for Climate and the Environment (HCCE) and the Department of Mathematics. All areas in the mathematical sciences that align with the HCCE goals will be considered, with preference given to candidates who can significantly contribute to our course offerings and develop a shared vision for climate and environmental studies at a liberal arts college of science and engineering.

For more information go here.

Is global warming speeding up?

My question here is largely rhetorical. Global warming trends have been roughly quadratic for decades and that means the rate of increase is increasing. Still, the NTY thinks this is something new to write about in their article I Study Climate Change. The Data Is Telling Us Something New (10/13/2023) with this first sentence:

Staggering. Unnerving. Mind-boggling. Absolutely gobsmackingly bananas.

I provide a response to this article in my Briefed by Data post A Response to a NYT Climate Article, suggesting that this first sentence is just alarmism. The article includes an animation illustrating that quadratic functions have increasing slopes and so the NYT image here is not surprising. Also, one should ask why the lines on this graph are over different periods.

Please check it out the Briefed by Data article. The basic conclusion is that yes, warming is speeding up, which is bad, but at the same time nothing we are seeing now is all that surprising or unpredictable.