149 research outputs found

    Intrinsic unpredictability of strong El Ni\~no events

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    The El Ni\~no-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a mode of interannual variability in the coupled equatorial ocean/atmosphere Pacific. El Ni\~no describes a state in which sea surface temperatures in the eastern Pacific increase and upwelling of colder, deep waters diminishes. El Ni\~no events typically peak in boreal winter, but their strength varies irregularly on decadal time scales. There were exceptionally strong El Ni\~no events in 1982-83, 1997-98 and 2015-16 that affected weather on a global scale. Widely publicized forecasts in 2014 predicted that the 2015-16 event would occur a year earlier. Predicting the strength of El Ni\~no is a matter of practical concern due to its effects on hydroclimate and agriculture around the world. This paper presents a new robust mechanism limiting the predictability of strong ENSO events: the existence of an irregular switching between an oscillatory state that has strong El Ni\~no events and a chaotic state that lacks strong events, which can be induced by very weak seasonal forcing or noise.Comment: 4 pages, 6 figure

    Homoclinic Orbits of the FitzHugh-Nagumo Equation: The Singular-Limit

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    The FitzHugh-Nagumo equation has been investigated with a wide array of different methods in the last three decades. Recently a version of the equations with an applied current was analyzed by Champneys, Kirk, Knobloch, Oldeman and Sneyd using numerical continuation methods. They obtained a complicated bifurcation diagram in parameter space featuring a C-shaped curve of homoclinic bifurcations and a U-shaped curve of Hopf bifurcations. We use techniques from multiple time-scale dynamics to understand the structures of this bifurcation diagram based on geometric singular perturbation analysis of the FitzHugh-Nagumo equation. Numerical and analytical techniques show that if the ratio of the time-scales in the FitzHugh-Nagumo equation tends to zero, then our singular limit analysis correctly represents the observed CU-structure. Geometric insight from the analysis can even be used to compute bifurcation curves which are inaccessible via continuation methods. The results of our analysis are summarized in a singular bifurcation diagram.Comment: preprint version - for final version see journal referenc
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