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Climate: don't look for shortcuts.

Atmospheric scientists know that climate and weather belong to that mathematic netherworld known as chaos, in which systems exhibit complex behavior because of internal instabilities. But not all chaos is the same. Several studies over the past few years have suggested that the atmosphere has a low-dimensional attractor, making it one of the simpler chaotic systems. Such findings have raised hopes that scientists could devise a new breed of weather forecasting models that are much less complex than those now in use. However, one of the originators of chaos theory now contends that the optimistic studies have underestimated the complexity of the atmosphere.

Edward N. Lorenz, a meterorologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, tested the dimension-gauging technique used in these studies by applying it to an artificial system whose dimension is known. Because the procedure underestimated the dimensions of this system, Lorenz suggests the technique has made similar mistakes in analyzing weather and climate data. His findings deflate hopes for finding the hypothesized forecasting shortcut.
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Title Annotation:the weather as a chaotic system
Publication:Science News
Date:Sep 28, 1991
Words:168
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