USING MATLAB PROGRAMMING LANGUAGE FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES IN THE MSC IN CLIMATE SCIENCES
Earth research uses a wide set of different types of numerical data with very different formats and sizes. Data reduction, graphical display and statistical manipulations are generally necessary and required in the analysis of these data. Earth scientists commonly use spreadsheets for this type of work however spreadsheets are not designed for scientific applications. Furthermore, programming operations such as contouring, calculating Fourier transforms, or plotting triangular diagrams, rose diagrams, and stereographic nets is not at all straightforward. The commercial software package called Matlab® solved most of these problems.
MATLAB is a commercial package for numerical analysis, developed by The Math-Works, Inc. It is based on the concept that data can be represented as arrays of numbers. Thus, most of the operations of numerical analysis can be carried out using linear algebra. These operations would be quite complicated to program using ordinary programming languages (BASIC, FORTRAN, Pascal,C,...). However, Matlab has incorporated these operations as single commands making very easy the numerical analysis for recent graduates.
Currently, the program MATLAB is used for a wide range of applications in geosciences, such as image processing in remote sensing, the generation and processing of digital elevation models, and the analysis of time series. In the Master in Climate Science: Meteorology, Physical Oceanography and Climate Change, the Matlab program is considered as a fundamental tool to the posterior development of scientific research. Therefore, the first subject that students receive is focused on teaching the Matlab programming language. This subject, Climate Data Analysis, introduces methods of data analysis in geosciences using MATLAB, such as basic statistics for univariate, bivariate and multivariate datasets, processing of satellite data, linear and nonlinear time-series analysis, and the application of filters. The students will work with numerous examples demonstrating how MATLAB can be used on data sets from earth sciences. In this way, after this subject the students can find quick solutions for common problems in data analysis in the rest of subjects of the Master (climate models, atmosphere-ocean interaction, projections of climate change,...).