MIT: Independent Activities Period: IAP

IAP 2016 Activities by Sponsor - Joint Program/Science and Policy of Global Change

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From Turbines to Tariffs: Technical and Regulatory Issues for Scaling Up Wind Energy

Chiao-ting Li & Michael Davidson, Postdoc & Ph. D

Enrollment: Unlimited: No advance sign-up
Attendance: Participants welcome at individual sessions

Date: Jan. 25&26 (10:00am-12:00 noon)

Location: E51-085

In this two-part IAP session, we will discuss the fundamentals of wind energy and how it integrates with electricity systems and regulatory structures. These topics will provide an overview of major issues in scaling up wind energy significantly in existing electricity systems, and then we will present two case studies from our research focusing on challenges and opportunities in China.


Date / Time (Jan.25, 10:00am-12:00noon, 2 hours)

Session #1: Science and engineering of wind energy


Date / Time (Jan.26, 10:00am-12:00noon, 2 hours)

Session #2: Wind energy in political and regulatory context, with China applications

○      1. Study of technical and institutional causes of wind energy spillage in Northeast China

○      2. Optimizing wind/coal hybrid bases across northern China


Sponsor(s): Joint Program/Science and Policy of Global Change
Contact: Chiao-ting Li, E19-411, 617-715-5254,

IAP 2016 Introduction to Climate Science and Policy

Katie Mulvaney, Masters Program in Technology and Policy, Class of 2017

Enrollment: Unlimited: Advance sign-up required
Sign-up by 01/18
Attendance: Participants welcome at individual sessions

A fast-paced, accessible introduction to the climate system, linking the social and scientific aspects of climate change.  These sessions aim to contextualize current global and local climate policy and provide an introduction to current research in climate.  Tuesday, January 19 - Thursday, January 21, 5:30pm-6:30pm, we will discuss climate science, followed by a discussion of climate policy, 6:30pm-7:30pm.  As 'the climate system' is extraordinarily complex, we'll first explore what some simple representations of climate can teach us, then explore their limitations & dig a little deeper into some key components.  In order to examine climate policy, we’ll go over some basics on economics, climate policy instruments, and climate governance at the international and national level.  On Friday, January 22, we will apply what we have learned with the World Climate activity, a mock international climate negotiation (open to all, even those who have not attended previous days)


(Although everyone is welcome. Signing up allows us to estimate the number of participants. Plus refreshments will be served prior to the first classes, on first come first served basis at 5 PM for registered participants).

Sponsor(s): Joint Program/Science and Policy of Global Change
Contact: Dimonika Bray, E19-411R, 617 324-7375, DBIZI@MIT.EDU

Basics of Climate Science - B. B. Cael

Jan/19 Tue 05:30PM-06:30PM Rm E51-315

Given the hype and controversy surrounding climate change, it's useful to start with the basics.  We'll kick off the week surveying the history & fundamentals of climate science, focusing in particular on radiation & greenhouse gases, the carbon cycle, and the earth's heat storage.

Katie Mulvaney - Masters Program in Technology and Policy, Class of 2017

Climate Policy 101

Jan/19 Tue 06:30PM-07:30PM RM E51-315

Evaluating the Options for Climate Policy 

How can the world respond to what science reveals about climate change?  One way to take action is to consider climate policy.  To understand the different options for climate policy, we¿ll go over basic economic concepts, climate policy instruments, and tools for evaluating policy in this session.

Katie Mulvaney - Masters Program in Technology and Policy, Class of 2017, Mara Freilich

Mechanisms of Climate Change

Jan/20 Wed 05:30PM-06:30PM RM E51-315

The nonlinearity of the climate system makes prediction difficult and results in fascinating feedback systems and possible tipping points. We will discuss mechanisms of the climate system and questions including: What does an Earth system model look like? What is the role of clouds, oceans, land cover, and biology in the climate system? and How does extreme weather relate to climate change?

Mara Freilich

Climate Policy 102 - Climate Governance

Jan/20 Wed 06:30PM-07:30PM RM 51-315

The challenges presented by climate change make it both a global and a local problem, and as a result, climate policy can be enacted at both the international and the domestic level.  In this session, we¿ll go over the history and status of international climate governance (including some background on the 2015 Paris Climate Negotiations), as well as national forums for climate governance.  

Katie Mulvaney - Masters Program in Technology and Policy, Class of 2017, Samantha Houston

Climate Change & Uncertainty

Jan/21 Thu 05:30PM-06:30PM RM E51-315

In this session we will discuss the sources of uncertainty in climate projections, the range of future outcomes, and how that translates into uncertainty in climate impacts both globally and locally.  We will cover topics such as the rate of warming, sea level rise, storm activity, and precipitation changes and how uncertainty in these changes make it more challenging to adequately prepare and adapt to climate change.

Megan Lickley

Climate Policy in Action

Jan/21 Thu 06:30PM-07:30PM RM E51-315

We'll cap off the intensive introduction to climate science and policy with a discussion with local leaders who are implementing creative solutions to climate change, from community activism to policy at the local and national scale.

Megan Lickley

World Climate Negotiations Simulation

Jan/22 Fri 05:30PM-07:30PM RM 51-315

International negotiators face challenges in coming to a global climate agreement.  An interactive climate ( activity will provide participants with some insight into the challenges. The groups will participate in a mock international climate negotiation, and the computer simulation C-ROADS will be used to examine the outcomes of the mock negotiation in real-time.

Katie Mulvaney - Masters Program in Technology and Policy, Class of 2017

Dispatches from Paris

Jan/25 Mon 05:30PM-06:30PM E51-315

Reflecting on the Climate Talks with COP21 Attendees (Date, time and location, to be confirmed)
In this informal panel discussion with members of the MIT community who participated as observers in the recent UN climate talks in Paris, will recap and reflect on the agreement that emerged from COP21, as well as hear first-hand accounts of the negotiation process and surrounding events.

Katie Mulvaney - Masters Program in Technology and Policy, Class of 2017