I’ve been inspired to start this blog after reading a Nature article by Timothy Gowers on the subject of “Massively Collaborative Mathematics”. Now, I’m no Fields Medallist like Timothy Gowers, but the possibility of conducting research out in the open in a such a way that anyone can contribute, is very interesting to me.
The aim of this blog is less a discussion of climate science in general, than an attempt to engage with whoever is interested in the details of sea level research.
Sea level research is far wider than simply “climate science”. It has applications in many areas of Earth sciences. I find it interesting to be reminded that the Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level (PSMSL), where I work, was originally founded (in 1933) with the objective of having a fixed datum against which to measure land movements. It was only after collecting data for some years that people started realising that sea level is far from static. Both land and sea levels change, which is one of the aspects of this research which makes it so challenging.
The longer term aim of this blog then, is to see if collaborative sea level research is possible, in a similar manner to that described by Timothy Gowers in the post which started the PolyMath project.
Sea level research is very different from the mathematics that Timothy Gowers describes. To start with it is very much applied science which is dealing with observational datasets, and all the complexities that come with “real” data. However, as a minimum I think that is worth carrying out what is sometimes described as Open Notebook Science which at least allows anyone who is interested to follow the development of ideas, and perhaps, to make useful comments on weaknesses in the approach or alternative ways to tackle the problem.
I hope that this blog will be far more than a diary of the work that I’m doing though. I’d like other people to contribute ideas and to work on the problems collaboratively. In my next post I’ll talk in a bit more detail about the kind of approach that I envisage and try to develop the ideas a bit further.