Senior statistics major Anne Marie Matheny corrects climate models

Ann Marie Matheny worked as a climate statistics research intern through Vermont EPSCor, which stands for the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. It’s a program designed to fulfill the National Science Foundation’s mandate to promote scientific progress nationwide.

“I would not have had such a fun, challenging and enriching summer experience if it wasn’t for the help and generosity of the Walter Center,” she said. “Not only did this internship provide an opportunity to vastly improve data science and software development skillsets, but it also provided me with an experience to work with other interns with vast educational backgrounds from all over the world including Italy, Puerto Rico, and Ireland.”

She, along with her cohort of interns, worked on the Basin Resilience for Extreme Events Project (BREE) to identify strategies for resilience in the social-ecological system of the Lake Champlain Basin. Their research methods included the creation of a new soil sensor network, leveraging of existing water sensors for redeployment, and the development of new models, which included land use and network models that capture the cognitive behaviors and opinions of land users and policymakers. 

“My job this summer was to assess the intensity, frequency, and accuracy of a Regional Climate Model at a fine resolution, implement three different bias correction approaches, and evaluate the performance of each approach to help climatologists better estimate, capture, and generate adaptive solutions,” she said.

Climatologists assess Global Climate Models in order to project future climate predictions, but these models have novel bias and are low resolution. Regional Climate Models are used in smaller areas due to their finer, gridded resolution, but they still have model error.

Anne Marie worked with data scientists and statisticians to correct these models. She also wrote software to download, cleaned and processed output from climate models, and performed statistical studies.

“I took a particular interest in extreme temperature patterns across both space and time and conducted my own independent research applying these bias correction approaches specifically to temperatures of the upper quantiles,” she said. “I was invited to present my research at Dartmouth College, as well as at the annual Vermont Research Symposium.”

Her internship program incorporated networking, team building, and social activities, but she was most excited about participating in a weather balloon launch.

Most importantly, Anne Marie was able to learn more about herself as a student and as a rising statistician. 

Climate change looms over society as a constant threat to agricultural industries, local and large-scale economies, natural beauty, and future generations. It is apparent and solutions are inevitable,” she said. “I feel that it is not only my responsibility but my duty as a citizen of this earth to work to protect life on our plant, especially with my skills and academic background.” 

She’s extremely passionate about the industry and plans on entering the field after graduating from IU in May. She wants to move to Denver and work as a governmental-statistical consultant for different environmental agencies, like the Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency, and the Department of Energy.

“I was proud to represent my cream and crimson this summer,” Ann Marie said. “I am so grateful for this opportunity and hope to inspire other students at Indiana University to play their role in sustainability, both on campus and in pursuit of their own careers.”

By Maureen Langley
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