Editor’s note: Dr. Adam participated in Hebrew University’s recent coronavirus webinar series with his presentation titled “Climate Science During the Time of Corona“.

The Jerusalem Post header - Hebrew U. establishes multidisciplinary center for climate research - The center will use a state-of-the-art computer system currently being set up at the Hebrew University, recruit new researchers, and make the issue of climate accessible to the general public.

An ultra-Orthodox man observes the giant globes displayed outside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City; the initiative of the non-profit organization Cool Globes aims to raise awareness of climate change.

An ultra-Orthodox man observes the giant globes displayed outside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City; the initiative of the non-profit organization Cool Globes aims to raise awareness of climate change.

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which considers climate issues as some of the most significant scientific problems the world currently faces, established a climate research center, the Hebrew University Center for Climate Science (HUCS).

The new center, headed by the two researchers Prof. Hezi Gildor and Dr. Uri Adam, will make it possible to deal with the challenges of the climate crisis in the Middle East region. The center’s members will focus on building an up-to-date and accurate regional climate model.

The center will allow ideas, research and interdisciplinary brainstorming around the climate issue to collaborate with the Meteorological Service and various institutions in the country.

Climate change in the Middle East region is expected to lead to dehydration, warming and desertification, along with an increase in the frequency of extreme climate events such as storms and heat waves leading to floods and fires.

In order to prepare for this, climate forecasts based on as up-to-date and accurate climate models as possible, using complex computer software that simulates the Middle East climate, are needed.

L-R: Prof. Hezi Gildor and Dr. Uri Adam, Hebrew University

L-R: Prof. Hezi Gildor and Dr. Uri Adam, Hebrew University

The models that exist today in the world have a limited predictive power for the region; the HUCS Center aims at changing that.

“The changing climate is a topic that poses major problems and questions for humanity in the coming decades. The main tool that researchers use today to predict climate change is climate models,” Prof. Hezi Gildor of the University’s Institute of Earth Sciences said. “The goals of the new center at the Hebrew University are to contribute to the development of more accurate models regarding the climate in the world in general, and in our region in particular.”

“Despite decades of in-depth research in the field, climate science is in relative terms a young science. In recent decades, impressive progress has been made in understanding global climate change and the causes of global warming. At the regional level, however, the ability of climatic models to provide reliable and useful information about the source and nature of future expected changes is limited,” Dr. Uri Adam, from the Institute of Earth Sciences, said.

“The uniqueness of the new center is that in contrast to the global trend of accelerated investment in computing resources, we intend to invest in basic research, focusing on understanding processes and not just on representing them in models. At the same time, we intend to utilize state-of-the-art tools of artificial intelligence as a tool that empowers research. If you will, ‘mind’ where it is needed and ‘power’ where there is no choice.”

Due to the great complexity of the climate system, since the first supercomputer was established as part of the American nuclear project in the mid-1940s, climate models have marked the peak of computing technology in every era.
It is not for nothing that the father of chaos theory, Edward Lorenz, and the father of numerical prediction, Lewis Perry Richardson, came to their discoveries through climate research, understanding the importance of solving climate equations by computational means.

The center will use a state-of-the-art computer system currently being set up at the Hebrew University, recruit new researchers, and make the issue of climate accessible to the public and decision-makers.

The unique project will allow – for the first time in Israel – for researchers from various fields (mathematics, statistics, physics, earth sciences, geography, political science, agriculture, computer science and more) to join forces to develop a climate model that can predict and explain the expected changes in our region from existing models.

Prof. Tapio Schneider

Prof. Tapio Schneider

“We are in the process of integrating into a new and revolutionary project, a collaboration of several of the world’s leading universities, to ‘reinvent’ the climate model. Along with adapting computer software to future computing technologies, the revolutionary climate model is a hybrid of mathematical equations and artificial intelligence algorithms, leading to a sum exceeding the sum of its parts,” added Dr. Uri Adam, also from the Institute of Earth Sciences.

“The initiator of this revolutionary project is Prof. Tapio Schneider. In the United States, he serves as the center’s special advisor, and in fact is waiting with us to raise the appropriate resources so that we can contribute to the project and harness it for our needs. It should be noted that the Hebrew University is considered a world leader in cloud and oceanic dynamics.”

According to Dr. Adam, “In addition to providing advanced computational infrastructure, the center will include advanced training in earth sciences, advanced measurements, the establishment of a digital data archive adapted for data mining and big data research, and the promotion of connections between researchers from Israel and the world.”