Chapman Chair


Jürgen Kurths

Renowned German mathematical physicist Jürgen Kurths is the current Sydney Chapman Endowed Chair of Physical Sciences. He developed this schedule with an eye to interdisciplinary research and hopes that mathematicians, biologists, climate scientists, geoscientists, and scientists from many other disciplines will attend. The seminars are open to all levels from undergraduates to faculty.

Chapman Chair Schedule of Seminars
Fall 2018:  Ocean Dynamics and Ecology

Tuesday, September 4

  • The Interplay of Structure and Dynamics in Spatial Ecological Networks
    Dr. Barbara Drossel
    2:30-3:30 PM in the Elvey Auditorium
  • Discussion  & Coffee
    3:30-4:00 PM in the Globe Room
  • Earth System’s Network Approaches:  Potentials, Limits, Challenges
    Dr. Jürgen Kurths
    4:00-4:30 PM in the Elvey Auditorium
  • Stability Analysis of Abstract Ecological Networks and the Beaufort Sea Food Web
    Stefan Awender, PhD candidate
    4:30-5:00 PM in the Elvey Auditorium
  • Reception
    5:00-6:00 PM in the Globe Room

Wednesday, September 5

  • Satellites, Seals and Simulations to Study Polar Ocean and Ice Interactions and Feedbacks
    Dr. Laurie Padman
    2:30-3:30 PM in the Elvey Auditorium
  • Discussion & Coffee
    3:30-4:00 PM in the Globe Room
  • Consequences for the Earth System of Sea-Ice Decline
    Dr. Uma Bhatt
    4:00-4:30 PM in the Elvey Auditorium
  • Changing Paradigm of a Quiet Arctic Ocean Due to an Emerging New Dynamic Regine
    Dr. Igor Polyakov
    4:30-5:00 PM  in the Elvey Auditorium
  • Pizza
    5:00-6:00 PM in the Globe Room

Friday, September 7

  • How Does the Atlantic Ocean Influence the Amazon Rainforest?
    Catrin Ciemer, PhD candidate
    4:00-5:00 PM in the Elvey Auditorium
  • Meet at Pub
    5:00-6:00 PM in the UAF Pub

More information on the guest speakers and talks


Invitational Talk:  The Interplay of Structure and Dynamics in Spatial Ecological Networks

Description:  This talk gives an overview over theoretical insights into the stability of ecosystems that consist of many species and are extended in space. Such systems can be represented as “networks on networks”, with a network of species interactions being placed on a spatial network of habitats connected by dispersal.

In the first part of the talk, I will show how the properties of the habitat network and of the species network act together to create various types of instabilities, including spatial pattern and localized oscillations. This investigation also shows that global predators can have a stabilizing effect.

In the second part, I will explore diversity, spatial distribution, and lifetimes of species in evolutionary foodweb models. The data show how the modular structure of the habitat network influences these patterns. Results show furthermore that more dispersal leads to broader species-area curves, and that species numbers decrease at boundaries.

When:  Tuesday, September 4  |  Time:  2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

About Barbara Drossel

Barbara Drossel is professor of theoretical physics at the Technical University of Darmstadt in Germany. After obtaining her PhD in Physics in 1994 from the Technical University of Munich, she held postdoc positions in the USA (MIT), England (Univ. Manchester) and Israel (Univ. Tel Aviv). She assumed the position in Darmstadt in 2002. Her research field is the theory of complex systems, with a focus on biological networks. For many years, she has also been modeling the dynamics and evolution of ecological systems.


Invitational Talk:  Satellites, Seals and Simulations to Study Polar Ocean and Ice Interactions and Feedbacks

Description:  The goal of this overview talk is to encourage studies of the polar climate system through synthesis of multiple data sets, both remotely sensed and in situ, and numerical simulations. Understanding this system is complicated by strong interactions and feedbacks involving five distinct media: the atmosphere, ocean, sea ice, ice sheets and the rock/sediment bed. I review recent advances in understanding processes controlling the coupled polar climate system, focusing on feedbacks that play first-order roles in how polar systems will evolve. These processes include the well-known sea-ice/albedo feedback, the effects of freshwater hosing from accelerated ice sheet melting, and the role of sea ice in mitigating ice loss from the ice sheets. On longer time scales, the bed responds to isostatic adjustment to changes in glacial loading and to sedimentation, affecting ocean circulation to feed back into the coupled system, while ice sheet surface lowering modifies atmospheric circulation and surface mass budgets. A paucity of data driven by logistic constraints leads to a dependence on synthesizing insights from several distinct approaches including satellite remote sensing, coupled numerical modeling, and a diverse range of in situ data sets. I review some of these, including: data from instrumented marine mammals to map bathymetry and obtain high-latitude hydrographic data outside of the ship-friendly summer seasons; grounded icebergs for bathymetry, and free icebergs as current trackers; GPS records from floating ice; and bottom-parked autonomous profilers.

When:  Wednesday, September 5  |  Time:  2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

About Laurie Padman

Laurie Padman is Vice-President and a Senior Scientist at Earth & Space Research (ESR), a non-profit research institute based in Seattle, Washington, USA. He received his Ph.D. in Oceanography from the University of Sydney in 1987, and then worked at Oregon State University until moving to ESR in 1997. His research focuses on interactions between the polar oceans, sea ice and ice shelves, including ocean-forced thinning of Antarctica’s ice shelves and how tidal currents and turbulence affect sea ice.


Invitational Talk:  How does the Atlantic ocean influence the Amazon rainforest

Description:  We will first use complex networks to identify correlations between sea surface temperatures and severe droughts in the Amazon rainforest. Afterwards, we will have a closer look at the resilience of the rainforest in order to estimate if a projected higher frequency of droughts in the future could permanently harm the forest.

When:  Friday, September 7  |  Time:  4:00 PM – 5:00 PM

About Catrin Ciemer

Catrin Ciemer is a PhD candidate in Physics within the IRTG 1740  “Dynamical Phenomena in Complex Networks: Fundamentals and Applications” in the research group of Prof. Kurths at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Germany. The program is in close cooperation with the University of São Paulo, Brazil.  Her research focuses on the interaction between climate and vegetation in South America. In the scope of her study, she analyzes changes in rainfall patterns using complex networks and investigates the resilience of the Amazon rainforest in dependence of rainfall variability.

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