A Dynamical Systems View of Planetary Turbulence

Jeffrey B. Weiss

Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences

University of Colorado, Boulder

The turbulence of planetary atmospheres and oceans self-organizes into

a spatio-temporal pattern of coherent structures such as vortices and

jets. These structures provide insight into the long-standing problem

of reducing fluid turbulence to a chaotic dynamical system. The

attractor of the turbulence is an evolving population of structures,

and the structures' degrees of freedom are the reduced coordinate

system which describe the attractor. These ideas are explored in a

hierarchy of systems with increasing complexity, from Hamiltonian

ordinary differential equations to oceanic observations.