Statistical science: contributions to the Administration's research priority on climate change
Data are fundamental to all of science. Data enhance scientific theories and their statistical analysis suggests new avenues of research and data collection. Climate science is no exception. Earth's climate system is complex, involving the interaction of many different kinds of physical processes and many different time scales. Thus this area of science has a critical dependence on the examination of all relevant data and the application of statistics for its interpretation. Climate datasets are increasing in number, size, and complexity and challenge traditional methods of data analysis. Satellite remote sensing campaigns, automated weather monitoring networks, and climate-model experiments have contributed to a data explosion that provides a wealth of new information but can overwhelm standard approaches. Developing new statistical approaches is an essential part of understanding climate and its impact on society in the presence of uncertainty. Experience has shown that rapid progress can be made when "big data" is used with statistics to derive new technologies. Crucial to this success are new statistical methods that recognize uncertainties in the measurements and the scientific processes but are also tailored to the unique scientific questions being studied.