Salawitch interviewed for UMD FYB program

ESSIC / AOSC researcher and University of Maryland professor, Ross Salawitch, was featured in an interview for the University’s “First Year Book (FYB)" program.

Each academic year since 1993, the University of Maryland selects a book for first year students, with the goal of promoting a shared intellectual experience that includes discussions from a variety of disciplines.  Author and statistician Nate Silver’s book, “The Signal and the Noise,” was chosen as the First Year Book for the 2013-14 academic years.

The book, which details the use of data and statistics in real world operations, emphasizes Silver’s expertise with probability and statistics.  Salawitch’s knowledge of climate change led him to compare his own research with the themes in Silver’s book.

“Often we detect incorrect patterns, we get fooled by data,” Salawitch said. “The book is about how to act and sift through noisy data and discern the truth.”

Salawitch’s interview highlights specific quotes from the book, which he then evaluates with respect to climate change models and predictions.  Specifically, he notes the relationship scientists often make between volcanic cooling and climate change.

Salawitch also mentions climate change in relation to changes in ocean circulation. His example responds directly to a main theme in Silver’s book that humans sometimes detect false patterns.

“Sometimes you have to understand uncertainties and abandon preconceived notions about the way the world works,” says Salawitch.

Salawitch says he respects Silver’s writing and highly recommends this book.

“For anyone who works with data, climate, or weather, it’s a must read,” Salawitch said. (Salawitch volunteered that any Maryland affiliate with an ID card can get a free copy of the book on the second floor of Marie Mount Hall.)

Nate Silver is known for his use of data and statistics in successfully predicting outcomes, such as in political elections.  He also developed PECOTA, a system for forecasting baseball performance that was purchased by Baseball Prospectus.

You can see the full interview of Salawitch below.