An open-source textbook for teaching climate-related risk analysis using the R computing environment

Tuesday, 15 December 2015: 10:35
103 (Moscone South)
Patrick J Applegate, Penn State University, University Park, PA, United States and Klaus Keller, Pennsylvania State University, Geosciences, University Park, PA, United States; Carnegie Mellon University, Department of Engineering and Public Policy, Pittsburgh, PA, United States
Greenhouse gas emissions lead to increased surface air temperatures and sea level rise. In turn, sea level rise increases the risks of flooding for people living near the world's coastlines. Our own research on assessing sea level rise-related risks emphasizes both Earth science and statistics. At the same time, the free, open-source computing environment R is growing in popularity among statisticians and scientists due to its flexibility and graphics capabilities, as well as its large library of existing functions. We have developed a set of laboratory exercises that introduce students to the Earth science and statistical concepts needed for assessing the risks presented by climate change, particularly sea-level rise. These exercises will be published as a free, open-source textbook on the Web. Each exercise begins with a description of the Earth science and/or statistical concepts that the exercise teaches, with references to key journal articles where appropriate. Next, students are asked to examine in detail a piece of existing R code, and the exercise text provides a clear explanation of how the code works. Finally, students are asked to modify the existing code to produce a well-defined outcome. We discuss our experiences in developing the exercises over two separate semesters at Penn State, plus using R Markdown to interweave explanatory text with sample code and figures in the textbook.