"Waves" vs. "particles" in the atmosphere's phase space: a pathway to long-range forecasting?

Michael Ghil; Andrew W. Robertson

"Waves" vs. "particles" in the atmosphere's phase space: a pathway to long-range forecasting?
Ghil, Michael
Robertson, Andrew W.
International Research Institute for Climate and Society
Persistent URL:
Book/Journal Title:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
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 inhomogeneities 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 persistence and recurrence, and the Markov chain of transitions among them. The periodicity approach studies intraseasonal oscillations, 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.
Atmospheric sciences
Publisher DOI:
Item views
text | xml
Suggested Citation:
Michael Ghil, Andrew W. Robertson, , "Waves" vs. "particles" in the atmosphere's phase space: a pathway to long-range forecasting?, Columbia University Academic Commons, .

Columbia University Libraries | Policies | FAQ