Journal cover Journal topic
Nonlinear Processes in Geophysics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Journal topic

Journal metrics

Journal metrics

  • IF value: 1.699 IF 1.699
  • IF 5-year value: 1.559 IF 5-year
    1.559
  • CiteScore value: 1.61 CiteScore
    1.61
  • SNIP value: 0.884 SNIP 0.884
  • IPP value: 1.49 IPP 1.49
  • SJR value: 0.648 SJR 0.648
  • Scimago H <br class='hide-on-tablet hide-on-mobile'>index value: 52 Scimago H
    index 52
  • h5-index value: 21 h5-index 21
Volume 22, issue 3
Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 22, 275–288, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/npg-22-275-2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 22, 275–288, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/npg-22-275-2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 07 May 2015

Research article | 07 May 2015

Oscillations in a simple climate–vegetation model

J. Rombouts1 and M. Ghil2,3 J. Rombouts and M. Ghil
  • 1Centre for Complexity Science, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK
  • 2Geosciences Department and Environmental Research & Teaching Institute, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, France
  • 3Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences Department and Institute of Geophysics & Planetary Physics, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Abstract. We formulate and analyze a simple dynamical systems model for climate–vegetation interaction. The planet we consider consists of a large ocean and a land surface on which vegetation can grow. The temperature affects vegetation growth on land and the amount of sea ice on the ocean. Conversely, vegetation and sea ice change the albedo of the planet, which in turn changes its energy balance and hence the temperature evolution. Our highly idealized, conceptual model is governed by two nonlinear, coupled ordinary differential equations, one for global temperature, the other for vegetation cover. The model exhibits either bistability between a vegetated and a desert state or oscillatory behavior. The oscillations arise through a Hopf bifurcation off the vegetated state, when the death rate of vegetation is low enough. These oscillations are anharmonic and exhibit a sawtooth shape that is characteristic of relaxation oscillations, as well as suggestive of the sharp deglaciations of the Quaternary.

Our model's behavior can be compared, on the one hand, with the bistability of even simpler, Daisyworld-style climate–vegetation models. On the other hand, it can be integrated into the hierarchy of models trying to simulate and explain oscillatory behavior in the climate system. Rigorous mathematical results are obtained that link the nature of the feedbacks with the nature and the stability of the solutions. The relevance of model results to climate variability on various timescales is discussed.

Publications Copernicus
Download
Short summary
Our conceptual model describes global temperature and vegetation extent. We use elements from Daisyworld and classical energy balance models and add an ocean with sea ice. The model exhibits oscillatory behavior within a plausible range of parameter values. Its periodic solutions have sawtooth behavior that is characteristic of relaxation oscillations, as well as suggestive of Quaternary glaciation cycles. The model is one of the simplest of its kind to produce such oscillatory behavior.
Our conceptual model describes global temperature and vegetation extent. We use elements from...
Citation