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Title: Delayed effects and critical transitions in climate models
Author: Quinn, C.
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2019
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There is a continuous demand for new and improved methods of understanding our climate system. The work in this thesis focuses on the study of delayed feedback and critical transitions. There is much room to develop upon these concepts in their application to the climate system. We explore the two concepts independently, but also note that the two are not mutually exclusive. The thesis begins with a review of delay differential equation (DDE) theory and the use of delay models in climate, followed by a review of the literature on critical transitions and examples of critical transitions in climate. We introduce various methods of deriving delay models from more complex systems. Our main results center around the Saltzman and Maasch (1988) model for the Pleistocene climate (`Carbon cycle instability as a cause of the late Pleistocene ice age oscillations: modelling the asymmetric response.' Global biogeochemical cycles, 2(2):177-185, 1988). We observe that the model contains a chain of first-order reactions. Feedback chains of this type limits to a discrete delay for long chains. We can then approximate the chain by a delay, resulting in scalar DDE for ice mass. Through bifurcation analysis under varying the delay, we discover a previously unexplored bistable region and consider solutions in this parameter region when subjected to periodic and astronomical forcing. The astronomical forcing is highly quasiperiodic, containing many overlapping frequencies from variations in the Earth's orbit. We find that under the astronomical forcing, the model exhibits a transition in time that resembles what is seen in paleoclimate records, known as the Mid-Pleistocene Transition. This transition is a distinct feature of the quasiperiodic forcing, as confi rmed by the change in sign of the leading nite-time Lyapunov exponent. Additional results involve a box model of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation under a future climate scenario and time-dependent freshwater forcing. We find that the model exhibits multiple types of critical transitions, as well as recovery from potential critical transitions. We conclude with an outlook on how the work presented in this thesis can be utilised for further studies of the climate system and beyond.
Supervisor: Sieber, J. ; Lenton, T. ; Ashwin, P. Sponsor: European Commission
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: dynamical systems ; conceptual models ; critical transitions ; delay differential equations ; bifurcation analysis ; climate studies