Stationarity or not?

Earth Day, 2010, an appropriate time for us to start receiving manuscripts for a new Featured Collection on nonstationarity. Julie Kiang, Rolf Olsen, and Reagan Wascom are the Guest Associate Editors.

Once, we thought 30 years of data was enough to characterize the statistics at a streamflow station. Climate change made that concept obsolete. This new collection of papers will examine how you deal with statistics when the underlying distribution itself may be changing.

All the models show greenhouse gas emissions forcing a small but steady temperature increase. The rise, however, is masked by huge year-to-year natural variations, cycles within cycles, with periods from decades to perhaps millennia. Even without human “help,” climate is not constant.

We must keep in mind Earth’s climate has been very good to our technological society for the past several thousand years, and there’s no guarantee it will continue to be so. Not for nothing is the present period called “interglacial!” Understanding change will be a critical skill for the future.

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