Self-organized Criticality: A Signature of Quantum-like Chaos in Atmospheric Flows

  • Amujuri Mary SelvamEmail author
Part of the Springer Atmospheric Sciences book series (SPRINGERATMO)


Atmospheric flows exhibit long-range spatiotemporal correlations manifested as the fractal geometry to the global cloud cover pattern concomitant with inverse power-law form for power spectra of temporal fluctuations on all space-time scales ranging from turbulence (centimetres-seconds) to climate (kilometres-years). Long-range spatiotemporal correlations are ubiquitous to dynamical systems in nature and are identified as signatures of self-organized criticality. Standard models in meteorological theory cannot explain satisfactorily the observed self-organized criticality in atmospheric flows. Mathematical models for simulation and prediction of atmospheric flows are nonlinear and do not possess analytical solutions. Finite precision computer realizations of nonlinear models give unrealistic solutions because of deterministic chaos, a direct consequence of round-off error growth in iterative numerical computations. Recent studies show that round-off error doubles on an average for each iteration of iterative computations. Round-off error propagates to the mainstream computation and gives unrealistic solutions in numerical weather prediction (NWP) and climate models, which incorporate thousands of iterative computations in long-term numerical integration schemes. A general systems theory model for atmospheric flows developed by the author predicts the observed self-organized criticality as intrinsic to quantumlike chaos in flow dynamics. The model provides universal quantification for self-organized criticality in terms of the golden ratio τ (≈1.618). Model predictions are in agreement with a majority of observed spectra of time series of several standard meteorological and climatological data sets representative of disparate climatic regimes. Universal spectrum for natural climate variability rules out linear trends. Man-made greenhouse gas related atmospheric warming would result in intensification of natural climate variability, seen immediately in high-frequency fluctuations such as QBO and ENSO and even shorter timescales. Model concepts and results of analyses are discussed with reference to possible prediction of climate change. Model concepts, if correct, rule out unambiguously, linear trends in climate. Climate change will only be manifested as increase or decrease in the natural variability. However, more stringent tests of model concepts and predictions are required before applications to such an important issue as climate change. The cell dynamical system model for atmospheric flows is a general systems theory applicable in general to all dynamical systems in other fields of science, such as, number theory, biology, physics and botany.


General systems theory Nonlinear dynamics and chaos Fractals Long-range space-time correlations Self-organized criticality Quantumlike chaos 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of IndiaRetired from IITMPuneIndia

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