We review work on extreme events, their causes and consequences, by a group of Euro- pean and American researchers involved in a three-year project on these topics. The review covers theoretical aspects of time series analysis and of extreme value theory, as well as of the deteministic modeling of extreme events, via continuous and discrete dynamic models. The applications include climatic, seismic and socio-economic events, along with their prediction.
The monograph covers the fundamentals and the consequences of extreme geophysical phenomena like asteroid impacts, climatic change, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, landslides, volcanic eruptions, flooding, and space weather. This monograph also addresses their associated, local and worldwide socio-economic impacts. The understanding and modeling of these phenomena is critical to the development of timely worldwide strategies for the prediction of natural and anthropogenic extreme events, in order to mitigate their adverse consequences. This monograph is unique in as much as it is dedicated to recent theoretical, numerical and empirical developments that aim to improve: (i) the understanding, modeling and prediction of extreme events in the geosciences, and, (ii) the quantitative evaluation of their economic consequences. The emphasis is on coupled, integrative assessment of the physical phenomena and their socio-economic impacts. With its overarching theme, Extreme Events: Observations, Modeling and Economics will be relevant to and become an important tool for researchers and practitioners in the fields of hazard and risk analysis in general, as well as to those with a special interest in climate change, atmospheric and oceanic sciences, seismo-tectonics, hydrology, and space weather.
Thirty years ago, E. N. Lorenz provided some approximate limits to atmospheric predictability. The details—in space and time—of atmospheric flow fields are lost after about 10 days. Certain gross flow features recur, however, after times of the order of 10–50 days, giving hope for their prediction. Over the last two decades, numerous attempts have been made to predict these recurrent features. The attempts have involved, on the one hand, systematic improvements in numerical weather prediction by increasing the spatial resolution and physical faithfulness in the detailed models used for this prediction. On the other hand, theoretical attempts motivated by the same goal have involved the study of the large-scale atmospheric motions’ phase space and the inhomoge- neities therein. These ‘‘coarse-graining’’ studies have addressed observed as well as simulated atmospheric data sets. Two distinct approaches have been used in these studies: the episodic or intermittent and the oscillatory or periodic. The intermittency approach describes multiple-flow (or weather) regimes, their per- sistence and recurrence, and the Markov chain of transitions among them. The periodicity approach studies intraseasonal oscil- lations, with periods of 15–70 days, and their predictability. We review these two approaches, ‘‘particles’’ vs. ‘‘waves,’’ in the quantum physics analogy alluded to in the title of this article, discuss their complementarity, and outline unsolved problems.