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.
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.