Paulo Perona
Thu 12 Apr 2018, 17:30 - 18:30
Hudson Beare, Lecture Theatre 2

If you have a question about this talk, please contact: Bob Fisher (rbf)

Reception afterwards will be held in Classroom 2 & 3, Sanderson Building

The noisy environment:  How determinism and stochasticity beget resilience and shape sustainability                                            
Environmental processes, such as for instance the distribution of water resources across the planet, the response of living organisms to environmental stimuli, and carbon sequestration and storage in the lithosphere, are key to the functioning of the Earth system and its components (Ecosphere). Such processes are characterized by deterministic (i.e. certain) and random (i.e. uncertain) rules, which help govern habitat characteristics and species biodiversity.

Compared to the pre-human era, the Ecosphere is now exposed to human actions that affect both biotic and abiotic processes at a global scale. As a result, many environmental processes are transgressing planetary boundaries previously considered safe for the Earth system to function properly.   

In this lecture, we will examine pattern formation, plant growth and uprooting, and the effect of memory in water-driven systems as examples of the above processes, under both human-driven and climate change scenarios. By this means, we will understand how deterministic and random fluctuations appear in environmental processes and how their combination can lead to resistance to perturbations (known as resilience). From the words of Pliny the Elder “The only certain thing is that nothing is certain”, we will learn that sustainable measures placed in defense of planetary boundaries must guarantee part of the original deterministic and noisy components of the process. The lecture will conclude with an overview of new perspectives for interdisciplinary environmental engineering.