WHAT CAN
MODELS DO
IN A CHANGED
CLIMATE?

HOW DO WE
MODEL AND DESIGN
IN A
CLIMATE CHANGED?

CAN
WE UNEARTH A
MODEL FOR
2050?

WHAT WILL YOUR CITY BE IN 2050?

Prompt

Imagine the Greater Boston region in 2050. The local sea levels will have risen by as much as 1.5 meters. King tides, caused by the gravitational interactions of the earth, sun, and moon will flood low-lying areas with every new and full moon. Coastal storm events, like hurricanes, will occur more often and with greater force. Due to rising temperatures, the New England summer will look more like that of Washington D.C. Heat waves will be hotter and longer, tripling the heat-induce mortality rate. The Northeast will see a continual increase in extreme storm events. This will disrupt transportation and cause flash flooding over built-up urban areas (Climate Ready Boston, 2016; and Cambridge CCVA Report, 2017).

These projections are alarming. Yet, we believe there are ways to mitigate and prepare our communities for the climate changed. In this competition we explore the power of models: to illustrate large and small scale shifts, to calculate uncertainty, to communicate predictions, and to show the community how events will unfold. With this in mind, we ask you to “model” an idea on one of three Greater Boston sites that addresses at least one climate hazard, and show how modeling can help transform the site in a climate changed. Teams are asked to select one of the three sites: the MIT campus and its surroundings, East Boston Greenway, or the Fresh Pond & Alewife areas.

See the competition brief PDF (linked at the top of the page) for full competition details.

Objectives

1. EXPLORE

Explore the agency of models to develop new ways of seeing the site and to design an intervention.

2. DEVELOP

Develop an intervention to address site-specific climate risks based on your model. Show how your proposal will be better the site and community in question.

Modeling

HOW ARE MODELS UNDERSTOOD,
MISUNDERSTOOD, USED, OR MISUSED
IN DESIGN AND POLICY MAKING?

A model is the representation of a system, process, or concept that serves to demonstrate, analyze, test, or imagine an idea. It can be constructed from various media and methods, and operate at diverse spatial and temporal scales; it may be computational, mathematical, statistical, a visualization, simulation, map or physical object.

In this competition, we consider two types of models, the scientific model and the design model. A scientific model provides the analytical basis for making informed design decisions. A design model envisions futures that call for scientific inquiry and discovery. In both cases, models have the power to motivate the proliferation of pathways that can lead toward a more sustainable, humane, and climate resilient future.

Teams are required to utilize at least one method of modeling—building their own model or employing an existing model—in the development of their idea proposal. The aim of the competition is two fold: first, to explore how design can inform the communication of scientific modeling and natural phenomena; and second, to explore how scientific models inform the development of design solutions. This competition is meant as an opportunity for scientists, researchers, students and others to consider the ways in which models can effectively communicate scientific principles, in addition to leading to design solutions. As such, the model employed is just as important as the site-specific intervention proposed.

Awards

In total $15,000 will be distributed amongst the winning teams. Select submissions will be included in the spring Climate Changed exhibition. All participating teams will be invited to attend the Climate Changed symposium to take place on April 20–21, 2018 at MIT.

Schedule

Registration Deadline: EXTENDED TO JANUARY 15, 2018 (see registration link at top of page)
Submission Deadline: February 2, 2018, 11:59 EST
Winners Announced: April 21, 2018

Eligibility

The competition is open to students, emerging scholars, researchers and practitioners.

1. People of all ages are welcome to participate.
2. MIT affiliation is not required on a team. All individuals may participate regardless of MIT affiliation.

See the competition brief PDF (linked at the top of the page) for full competition rules.

Are you looking for teammates? Add your name here and we will try our best to connect individuals with similar interests!

FAQs

Please note that we will continually update this section as questions are received.

As a scientist, when I think about models related to climate change, I think of the general circulation models. What is the definition of a model in the context of this competition?
We define a model to be the representation of a system, process, or concept that serves to demonstrate, analyze, test, or imagine an idea. It can be constructed from various media and methods, and operate at diverse spatial and temporal scales; it may be computational, mathematical, statistical, a visualization, simulation, map or physical object.
In this competition, we consider two types of models, the scientific model and the design model. A scientific model (such as a GCM) provides the analytical basis for making informed design decisions. A design model envisions futures that call for scientific inquiry and discovery. We ask that you think broadly and loosely about how different types of models interact and how information from one is translated or scaled up/down to answer questions at a different resolution.

The competition brief asks for a vision designed for 2050. Given that climate change will have impacts beyond 2050, can we think / design for the longer term?
Yes, definitely! While we ask that your proposal address the conditions in 2050, we encourage the proposal to be resilient for the longer future. Be sure to express this in your proposal submission.

How are we to imagine the world to be in 2050? Can we assume changes that have not yet happened, such as the Sapphire Necklace that is proposed for the Boston Harbor?
As we ask you to consider a future vision for the Boston area, you may assume that certain changes have happened in the city, region, and beyond. Your model and site intervention should take these changes into account. If you do include future changes in your thinking, be sure to clearly communicate this in your proposal.

How did you select the three sites?
We chose the three sites because, while they are all at imminent risk of climate-related threats, they are wildly different in their particular conditions. Each site is facing its own unique impacts due to its location, community needs, infrastructure, and existing built environment. At the same time, each site has been the subject of previous climate-related analyses to varying degrees. In some cases, there is a wealth of data, while in others there is limited information. The range in data availability as well as the diversity in urban conditions presents a unique challenge for each site.

Scientific model specs can be very long; much longer than 500 words. Can we submit material to supplement the modeling narrative?
You may additional material in your submission, such as your model’s full specifications. These can be uploaded as additional files on the proposal submission site. When submitting material please be selective and clearly explain what each component adds to the proposal. Remember that if you submit too much, it may muddle the clarity of your proposal. Consider how each part of the submission adds to the jury’s understanding of your modeling process and the development of your site proposal.

Can you say more about involvement of those outside of MIT? Can we work with a company?
Teams may choose to organize however they see fit. Keep in mind that each member of the competition team must meet the eligibility requirements and that we will be attributing the submitted proposal to the individuals listed in the team roster.

Can we submit work from another academic class or project as a proposal?
Participants may draw from previously done work, however your submission should directly address the competition brief and therefore should be revised or modified accordingly.

Exhibition

Exhibition opening at MIT on April 6, 2018. More information coming soon...

Symposium

Symposium to be held at MIT on April 20 and 21, 2018. More information coming soon...

About

What can models do in a changed climate? In the 1960s, NOAA created the first general circulation models simulating Earth’s oceans and atmosphere, and noted their impact on the global climate system. Since then, models have served as a primary mode of representing, analyzing, translating, and designing the environment in a changed climate.

How are models used to understand, and in turn, design our climate-changed world? Through a series of events to be held at MIT in the winter and spring of 2018, including an ideas competition, exhibition, and symposium, we explore how climate-related models of the past, present, and future act in today's climate changed world.

Climate Changed Co-Chairs: Irmak Turan and Jessica Varner
Faculty Advisor: John E. Fernandez
Graphic Design: Omnivore
Website: Ben Yoshiwara

The Climate Changed event series is co-sponsored by the MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative and the MIT School of Architecture and Planning.

Contact us about the ideas competition, the exhibition, or the symposium.

@MITclimate