Dynamical systems

Ghil M. The wind-driven ocean circulation: Applying dynamical systems theory to a climate problem. Discrete and Continuous Dynamical Systems - A. 2017;37 (1) :189-228.Abstract

The large-scale, near-surface flow of the mid-latitude oceans is dominated by the presence of a larger, anticyclonic and a smaller, cyclonic gyre. The two gyres share the eastward extension of western boundary currents, such as the Gulf Stream or Kuroshio, and are induced by the shear in the winds that cross the respective ocean basins. This physical phenomenology is described mathematically by a hierarchy of systems of nonlinear partial differential equations (PDEs). We study the low-frequency variability of this wind-driven, double-gyre circulation in mid-latitude ocean basins, subject to time-constant, purely periodic and more general forms of time-dependent wind stress. Both analytical and numerical methods of dynamical systems theory are applied to the PDE systems of interest. Recent work has focused on the application of non-autonomous and random forcing to double-gyre models. We discuss the associated pullback and random attractors and the non-uniqueness of the invariant measures that are obtained. The presentation moves from observations of the geophysical phenomena to modeling them and on to a proper mathematical understanding of the models thus obtained. Connections are made with the highly topical issues of climate change and climate sensitivity.

Spyratos V, Bourgeron PS, Ghil M. Development at the wildland urban interface and the mitigation of forest-fire risk. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2007;104 (36) :14272–14276.Abstract

This work addresses the impacts of development at the wildland-urban interface on forest fires that spread to human habitats. Catastrophic fires in the western United States and elsewhere make these impacts a matter of urgency for decision makers, scientists, and the general public. Using a simple fire-spread model, along with housing and vegetation data, we show that fire size probability distributions can be strongly modified by the density and flammability of houses. We highlight a sharp transition zone in the parameter space of vegetation flammability and house density. Many actual fire landscapes in the United States appear to have spreading properties close to this transition. Thus, the density and flammability of buildings should be taken into account when assessing fire risk at the wildland-urban interface. Moreover, our results highlight ways for regulation at this interface to help mitigate fire risk.

Speich S, Dijkstra H, Ghil M. Successive bifurcations in a shallow-water model applied to the wind-driven ocean circulation. Nonlinear Processes in Geophysics. 1995;2 :241–268.Abstract
Climate - the "coarse-gridded" state of the coupled ocean - atmosphere system - varies on many time and space scales. The challenge is to relate such variation to specific mechanisms and to produce verifiable quantitative explanations. In this paper, we study the oceanic component of the climate system and, in particular, the different circulation regimes of the mid-latitude win driven ocean on the interannual time scale. These circulations are dominated by two counterrotating, basis scale gyres: subtropical and subpolar. Numerical techniques of bifurcation theory are used to stud the multiplicity and stability of the steady-state solution of a wind-driven, double-gyre, reduced-gravity, shallow water model. Branches of stationary solutions and their linear stability are calculated systematically as parameter are varied. This is one of the first geophysical studies i which such techniques are applied to a dynamical system with tens of thousands of degrees of freedom. Multiple stationary solutions obtain as a result of nonlinear interactions between the two main recirculating cell (cyclonic and anticyclonic) of the large- scale double-gyre flow. These equilibria appear for realistic values of the forcing and dissipation parameters. They undergo Hop bifurcation and transition to aperiodic solutions eventually occurs. The periodic and chaotic behaviour is probably related to an increased number of vorticity cells interaction with each other. A preliminary comparison with observations of the Gulf Stream and Kuroshio Extensions suggests that the intern variability of our simulated mid-latitude ocean is a important factor in the observed interannual variability o these two current systems.
Kravtsov S, Kondrashov D, Ghil M. Empirical model reduction and the modelling hierarchy in climate dynamics and the geosciences. Stochastic physics and climate modelling. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 2009 :35–72.Abstract
Modern climate dynamics uses a two-fisted approach in attacking and solving the problems of atmospheric and oceanic flows. The two fists are: (i) observational analyses; and (ii) simulations of the geofluids, including the coupled atmosphere–ocean system, using a hierarchy of dynamical models. These models represent interactions between many processes that act on a broad range of spatial and time scales, from a few to tens of thousands of kilometers, and from diurnal to multidecadal, respectively. The evolution of virtual climates simulated by the most detailed and realistic models in the hierarchy is typically as difficult to interpret as that of the actual climate system, based on the available observations thereof. Highly simplified models of weather and climate, though, help gain a deeper understanding of a few isolated processes, as well as giving clues on how the interaction between these processes and the rest of the climate system may participate in shaping climate variability. Finally, models of intermediate complexity, which resolve well a subset of the climate system and parameterise the remainder of the processes or scales of motion, serve as a conduit between the models at the two ends of the hierarchy. We present here a methodology for constructing intermediate mod- els based almost entirely on the observed evolution of selected climate fields, without reference to dynamical equations that may govern this evolution; these models parameterise unresolved processes as multi- variate stochastic forcing. This methodology may be applied with equal success to actual observational data sets, as well as to data sets resulting from a high-end model simulation. We illustrate this methodology by its applications to: (i) observed and simulated low-frequency variability of atmospheric flows in the Northern Hemisphere; (ii) observed evo- lution of tropical sea-surface temperatures; and (iii) observed air–sea interaction in the Southern Ocean. Similar results have been obtained for (iv) radial-diffusion model simulations of Earth’s radiation belts, but are not included here because of space restrictions. In each case, the reduced stochastic model represents surprisingly well a variety of linear and nonlinear statistical properties of the resolved fields. Our methodology thus provides an efficient means of constructing reduced, numerically inexpensive climate models. These models can be thought of as stochastic–dynamic prototypes of more complex deterministic models, as in examples (i) and (iv), but work just as well in the situation when the actual governing equations are poorly known, as in (ii) and (iii). These models can serve as competitive prediction tools, as in (ii), or be included as stochastic parameterisations of certain processes within more complex climate models, as in (iii). Finally, the methodology can be applied, with some modifications, to geophysical problems outside climate dynamics, as illustrated by (iv).
Ghil M, Tavantzis J. Global Hopf Bifurcation in a Simple Climate Model. Siam Journal on Applied Mathematics [Internet]. 1983;43 (5) :1019–1041. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The mathematical structure of a simple climate model is investigated. The model is governed by a system of two nonlinear, autonomous differential equations for the evolution in time of global temperature $T$ and meridional ice-sheet extent $L$. The system's solutions are studied by a combination of qualitative reasoning with explicit calculations, both analytical and numerical. For plausible values of the physical parameters, a branch of periodic solutions obtains, which is both orbitally and structurally stable. The amplitude of the stable periodic solutions in $T$ and $L$ correspond roughly to that obtained from proxy records of Quaternary glaciation cycles. The period of these solutions increases along the branch, until it becomes infinite, while the amplitude of the limiting solution is finite. The limiting solution is a homoclinic orbit formed by the reconnecting separatrix of a saddle. The exchange of stability between the branch of periodic solutions and the steady solution from which it arises is studied by a slight simplification of known methods [20], [21].