Research Interests and publications
I'm generally interested in mathematical fusion of data and models to learn about climate processes, while quantitatively accounting for the multiple sources of uncertainty that arise in both sources of information. I especially enjoy applied hierarchical spatial and space-time modeling, and interfacing with scientists to ensure my models are grounded in the latest domain area expertise.
Currently I'm working on developing physical-statistical models for various aspects of tropical cyclone climatology in the Atlantic Basin. The goal of catastrophe risk modeling is to simulate thousands of years worth of physically-realistic rare and extreme events, like tropical cyclone landfalls, to help insurers and reinsurers estimate the risks of various portfolios. Previously, my dissertation and postdoctoral research focused on joint probabilistic reconstructions of paleoclimatic variability in temperature and soil moisture, conditioned on observed tree-ring width data. My approach accounted explicitly for the nonlinearities in the biological ''recording'' of climate variability by the trees by using a simple but nonlinear model of tree-ring growth embedded within a Bayesian hierarchical model.
Space- & climate- dependent modeling of tropical cyclone landfalls
Tolwinski-Ward, S.E. Uncertainty quantification for a climatology of the frequency and spatial distribution of North Atlantic tropical cyclone landfalls, Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, doi:10.1002/2014MS000407, (2015).
Reconstructions of bivariate paleoclimate from nonlinear tree-ring data
(Evolved from dissertation chapter #3!)
Tolwinski-Ward, S.E., M.P. Tingley, M.N. Evans, M.K. Hughes, D.W. Nychka, Probabilistic reconstructions of local temperature and soil moisture from tree-ring data with potentially time-varying climatic response, Climate Dynamics, doi:10.1007/s00382-014-2139-z, (2014).
Uncertainty in Climate Field Reconstructions from bivariate & nonlinear properties of tree-ring width
Evans, M.N., J.E. Smerdon, A. Kaplan, S.E. Tolwinski-Ward, and J.F. Gonzalez-Rouco, Climate field reconstruction uncertainty arising from multivariate and nonlinear properties of predictors, Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1002/2014GL062063, (2014).
Bayesian parameter calibration for nonlinear tree-ring width model
(Evolved from dissertation chapter #2)
Tolwinski-Ward, S.E., K.J. Anchukaitis, M.N. Evans, Bayesian parameter estimation and interpretation for an intermediate model of tree-ring width , Climate of the Past, doi:10.5194/cpd-9-615-2013, (2013).
Forward Modeling for high-resolution paleoclimate
Forward modeling of nonlinear climate controls on tree-ring width
(My first dissertation chapter!)
Tolwinski-Ward, S.E., M.N. Evans, M.K. Hughes, K.J. Anchukaitis, An efficient forward model of the climate controls on interannual variation in tree-ring width, Climate Dynamics, doi:10.1007/s00382-010-0945-5, (2011).
[Preprint] [Online First version] [Erratum] [Model code, documentation, and test data]