Northeastern Researchers Participate in Inaugural ClimaTech Conference

ECE/Khoury Professor Jennifer Dy, ECE/MIE Professor Hanumant Singh, and CEE Assistant Professor Julia Hopkins took part in the inaugural ClimaTech conference, joining hundreds of energy and technology experts from around the world who gathered to explore how protecting the environment can contribute to economic growth.

This article originally appeared on Northeastern Global News. It was published by Noah Lloyd. Main photo: Northeastern professors Hanu Singh and Jennifer Dy, and Woods Hole scientist Sarah Das, conduct a panel at the ClimaTech conference in Boston. Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University.

‘Beginning of a different kind of revolution.’ Northeastern researchers participate in the inaugural ClimaTech conference

Northeastern University researchers participated in the inaugural ClimaTech conference in Boston, joining hundreds of energy and technology experts from around the world who gathered to explore how protecting the environment can contribute to economic growth.

Jennifer Dy and Hanumant Singh — with Sarah Das of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute — conducted a panel conversation called “Climate Change: Cryosphere to the Coast,” presenting some of the dangers posed by rapid sea level rise from the polar regions to the Massachusetts coastline.

Meanwhile, Julia Hopkins, the lead designer behind the Emerald Tutu, a network of floating vegetation pads that can help displace floodwaters, gave a Ted Talk-style presentation titled “The Future of Coastal Resilience Infrastructure.”

Split between the House of Blues and the MGM Music Hall at Fenway, ClimaTech took on the air of something like a rock concert, with guests taking a stage usually reserved for guitarists and drummers.

Measurements and predictions

Singh, a professor in the College of Engineering at Northeastern University, kicked off his panel by describing some of his polar expeditions and their findings.

“I like to say I’m bipolar,” he joked. “I’ve spent the last 20 years of my life using robots in Antarctica, Greenland and the Arctic.”

“We all know things are melting,” he said, and they are “doing so at an increasingly fast rate.” Singh described how his recent efforts have focused on developing improved sensors to understand the speed and effects of glacial melt.

Using robots means an added layer of safety for human scientists who don’t have to stand next to calving glaciers, Singh said. Even a small glacier, he continued, can be “bigger than this entire block that comprises Fenway, and five times as tall.”

Clockwise from top left: Boston Mayor Michelle Wu presented opening remarks on Wednesday morning; Jennifer Dy, professor of electrical and computer engineering; University Distinguished Professor in the D’Amore-McKim School of Business Sheila Puffer asked a question of the panel; and Hanumant Singh, professor of electrical and computer engineering. Photos by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University.

Das, an associate scientist with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, described some of the effects on the local Massachusetts environment.

The Arctic, she said, is now warming four times faster than the global average, but “what happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic.”

“Boston is really at the epicenter of elevating sea level rise rates, and that is leading to increased amounts of flooding,” she continued.

Dy, a professor of computer science and electrical and computer engineering at Northeastern, discussed how advances in artificial intelligence can be employed against climate change, for instance by “forecasting extreme events,” she said, or helping to design new, more sustainable materials.

But because AI relies on large amounts of data to make its determinations, “Another challenge to models is: How do we make predictions at the local scale?”

“We have powerful algorithms. Climate change is here. What can we do as an AI community?” she asked.

Read full story at Northeastern Global News

Related Faculty: Jennifer Dy, Hanumant Singh, Julia Hopkins

Related Departments:Civil & Environmental Engineering, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Mechanical & Industrial Engineering