Monday, May 31, 2010

International Melting Pot

I'm now installed in my new apartment for the next 3 months: Simmeringer Hauptstrasse 141-143. Its a 2 bedroom apartment on the first floor that opens out onto a patio of sorts. I'm sharing with a fellow female PhD student from India.

I visited IIASA today and found my office in the main building. I'm sharing with Stefan (Canada) and Shou Lio. The place is a maze of corridors and little rooms. The building used to be a castle, and from the gorgeous chandeliers and marble corridors its quite easy to see a forgotten era.


I have spent the last 3 days in Laxenburg (Lower Vienna), the tiny suburb (I think its classified as a suburb) where IIASA is situated. The place has this very quaint feeling. The shops close by lunch on a saturday (including the only grocery store). People ride around on bicycles and life seems to go at a very slow pace (though this could just be the weekend).

I went exploring to find my office for the next few months, imagine my surprise when the building is a. huge and b. stunning. Its like those pictures you see of old European monuments. There is a park attached that it is rumoured contains a castle, pictures coming soon.

From the room I'm temporarily in I can hear the church bells at every hour and for celebrations (seems there were a few weddings this weekend). The church is directly opposite the entrance to IIASA in the Schlossplatz.

I have also added a new world to my German vocab:
Eissalon. I'm not sure what is actually translates to but I'm going with Ice Cream Parlour. The shop happens to be on the walk from the IIASA to the cafeteria, I see many an ice-cream lunch treat in my future.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Arrival in Vienna

I have arrived safely at my temp housing in Vienna after what seems like a very convoluted transport list. 2 trains, 2 buses and a walk and some lost keys later.

The housing grounds I am on also house the IIASA cafeteria which is where I'll probably be having lunch each day. I'm off exploring Laxenburg today, where I am actually staying for the weekend and going to be working. Its seems like a very sleepy town with minimal shops (think groceries, pharmacy, restaurant and hairdresser - that is all that is listed in the directory). Apparently there is a huge park and a castle to find.

Planning to go into Vienna proper tomorrow once I figure out the German bus schedule, I almost ended up going to the wrong town because they have multiple buses going different routes with the same number.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The adventure resumes

Today is the first day of my travels to Vienna for the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) Young Scientists Summer Program (YSSP). With 52 postgraduate students from around the world, this program aims to equip young scientists with modeling, data analysis and policy-making skills needed in organisations around the world.

The program officially starts on Tuesday. I am currently sitting in Dubai International Airport having watched the sun rise earlier. Its sweltering outside (well in comparison to the cold front I left last night).

Monday, May 10, 2010

Visiting SAWS

Simon Mason from IRI is visiting South Africa for a project with the South Africa Weather Bureau (SAWS). I had the opportunity to go to Pretoria to ask a few questions to the expert himself. Below I have listed a few things I learnt on my trip:

There are 3 attributes that one must consider in verification of forecasts:
• Resolution: Conditioning on the forecast. If you forecast something, does it happen? A forecast is useful if you have some resolution. Difficult to measure (need lots of data). Good for regions not grid boxes.
• Discrimination: Conditioning on outcomes. If it rains, did we forecast it. Needs less data. Can get map
• Reliability: Measures confidence and bias. Not useful on its own. Need to use (Resolution ∪ Discrimination) ∩ Reliability

Defining a region of study:
It is worth starting at 20 degrees latitude and longitude on each side of area interested and then narrow down by looking at diagnostic maps from GCM to downscaled. Easy to do with CCA. If looking at geo-potential height as an indicator, then the region may need to be bigger to include larger scale synoptic conditions.

Some extra literature for my spare time:
[1] R. Hagedorn and L. A. Smith. Communicating the value of probabilistic forecasts with weather roulette. Meteorological Applications, 2008.
[2] S. J. Mason. Recommended procedures for the verification of operational seasonal climate forecasts. 2010.
[3] A. H. Murphy and D. S. Wilks. A case study of the use of statistical models in forecast veri- fication: Precipitation probability forecasts. Weather and Forecasting, 13:795–810, September 1998.
[4] M. S. Roulston and L. A. Smith. Evaluating probabilistic forecasts using information theory. Monthly Weather Review, 130:1653–1660, June 2002.
[5] M. K. Tippett and A. G. Barnston. Skill of multimodel enso probability forecasts. Monthly Weather Review, 136:3933–3946, 2008.