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Invited Talks on Climate Change

August 3, 2016

CEE associate professor Auroop Ganguly and PhD student Udit Bhatia gave invited seminars on climate change this summer at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay; the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur; the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee; and the National Institute of Technology in Hamirpur.

Ganguly spoke on the topic of  "Climate & Complexity: Managing the Unavoidable". Abstract: From Big Data and network science to nonlinear dependence and rare events analysis, from tools which deal with chaotic signals and pink noise to agent-based models and space-time computation, the science of complexity has resulted in major strides across disciplines ranging from meteorology, hydrology, physics, engineering, and biology, to social sciences, economics, and finance. Climate change, water sustainability and infrastructural resilience represent major challenges for humanity, especially in developing nations and emerging economies. Once developed for these areas, tools and methods may generalize across disciplines such as biology and finance. Societal priorities need to be addressed by improving the state of the science and engineering and by influencing best practices.

Ganguly is a civil and environmental engineer who works at the intersection of three broad areas: (1) Climate Extremes and Water Sustainability, (2) Infrastructural Resilience and Homeland Security, and (3) Applied Data and Computational Sciences. Prior to his current position as a faculty at Northeastern University in Boston, MA, he was at the US Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory for seven years, at Oracle Corporation for five years, and at a startup subsequently acquired by Oracle for a year. In addition, he has a dual interest in ancient history and science fiction, i.e., the forgotten past and the unknown future. While he has nothing particularly against the here and now, he rarely gets any time to spend there and then. Once upon a time he obtained a PhD from MIT, and currently, other than his day job, he takes a bunch of undergraduate kids across India to study climate change, and happens to be the Chief Scientific Adviser for a startup co-founded with one of his former PhD students.

Bhatia spoke on the topic of "Network Science Based Quantification of Resilience of Engineered and Natural systems". Abstract: The structure, interdependence, and fragility of systems ranging from power-grids and transportation to ecology, climate, biology, finance and human communities have been examined through network science. Failure of some specific components in infrastructure systems and loss of a fraction of species can trigger the cascade of failure eventually leading to loss of critical functionality. Once perturbed, these systems need to be restored in faster and resource-efficient manner. While response to perturbations has been quantified, recovery strategies for perturbed networks have usually been either discussed conceptually or through anecdotal case studies. Here we develop a network science based quantitative framework, generalizable to both engineered and natural systems, for measuring, comparing and interpreting hazard responses as well as recovery strategies. Multiple metrics are used to generate various recovery strategies, which are simply sequences in which system components should be recovered after a disruption. Quantitative evaluation of these strategies suggests that faster and more efficient recovery is possible through network centrality measures. Optimal recovery strategies may be different per hazard, per community within a network, and for different measures of partial recovery. We apply the proposed framework to three systems: Isolated systems (i.e. Indian railways network); interdependent systems (i.e. Boston’s mass-transit and power-distribution network) and natural ecosystems (i.e. 39 plant-pollinator networks across the globe).

Bhatia is a PhD student under supervision of Prof. Auroop Ganguly in Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Northeastern University, Boston. His research interests include Infrastructural Resilience and Climate Water Sustainability. His research has been highlighted in NASA Techbriefs, R&D Magazine, NDTV, Zee News, and Paris Guardian among many others. Prior to joining PhD Program, he was working in the capacity of Assistant Design Engineer in MECON Ltd. (Government of India Enterprise). He was the founder of a successful engineering startup, the educational wing of which developed learning modules delivered to students through remote technologies and face-to-face interactions. The design wing of the company has worked on the development of architectural solutions for low cost housing. Udit holds a Bachelor of Technology in Civil Engineering from the National Institute of Technology, Hamirpur, India. He was the receipt of IRCC Research Internship award from Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, where he was part of the project, “Climate Change Impact Assessment on Water Resources of India”.