Mathematical Problems in Climate Dynamics

ghil Michael Ghil will be visiting the Math Department at Imperial College as a Nelder Fellow for a total of five weeks, 17 February – 7 March 2014, and 5 – 16 May. The guiding thread of the lectures will be bifurcation theory for systems of ordinary, stochastic and partial differential equations, as well as the ergodic theory of and statistical methods for such systems. The mathematics will be motivated by the physical observations and the results validated against the latter.

During the first stay, he will deliver six lectures on “Mathematical Problems in Climate Dynamics”, namely:

  • Lecture I: Observations and planetary flow theory (GFD(1))
  • Lecture II: Atmospheric LFV(2) & LRF(3)
  • Lecture III: EBMs(4), paleoclimate & “tipping points”
  • Lecture IV: The wind-driven ocean circulation
  • Lecture V: SSA ‌Lecture V: Advanced spectral methods–SSA(5) et al.
  • Lecture VI: Nonlinear & stochastic models–RDS(6)

(1) GFD = Geophysical fluid dynamics

(2) LFV = Low-frequency variability

(3) LRF = Long-range forecasting

(4) EBM = Energy balance model

(5) SSA = Singular-spectrum analysis

(6) RDS = Random dynamical system

Reading Material

Fluid Dynamics and Climate Basics I

Fluid Dynamics and Climate Basics II

Geophysical Flows as Dynamical Systems

Lecture III: EBMs(+), paleoclimate & “tipping points”

Lecture IV: The Wind-Driven Ocean Circulation

Lecture V: SSA

Lecture VI: Nonlinear & Stochastic Models or From DDS to RDS

The timetable for the course is as follows:

Monday 17 Feb 15:00 - 17:00

Monday 24 Feb 15:00 - 17:00

Monday 3 Mar 15:00 - 17:00

The lectures will take place in the Boardroom at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change (Sherfield Building).

For further details regarding Professor Michael Ghil's visit please contact Professor Darryl Holm or Professor Dan Crisan.


Michael Ghil obtained his Ph.D. from New York University’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Science with Peter D. Lax in 1975. He is a Distinguished Professor of Geosciences (emeritus) at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, past Head of its Geosciences Department (2003–2009) and founder of its Environmental Research and Teaching Institute. He is also a Distinguished Research Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he was Chair of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences (1988–1992) and Director of the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics (1992–2003).

Michael Ghil is a founder of theoretical climate dynamics, as presented in his Springer-Verlag (1987) book with Steve Childress, as well as of advanced data assimilation methodology, as presented in the Springer-Verlag (1981) book co-edited with Lennart Bengtsson and Erland Källén. He has applied systematically ideas and methods from nonlinear dynamics to planetary-scale flows, atmospheric and oceanic. He has used these methods to proceed from simple flows with high temporal regularity and spatial symmetry to the observed flows, with their complex behavior in space and time. His studies of climate variability on many time scales have used a full hierarchy of models, from the simplest ‘‘toy’’ models all the way to atmospheric, oceanic and coupled general circulation models.

Michael Ghil has worked on Climate Dynamics, Dynamical and Complex Systems, Extreme Events, Numerical and Statistical Methods, and (most recently) Mathematical Economics. He is the author or editor of a dozen books and author or co-author of nearly 300 research and review articles. Many of the latter can be found on the website of his research group at UCLA. His honors and awards include the L.F. Richardson Medal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU, 2004), the E.N. Lorenz Lecture of the American Geophysical Union (2005), a Plenary Lecture at the 7th International Congress on Industrial and Applied Mathematics (ICIAM 2011), the Alfred Wegener Medal of the EGU (2012), and Membership in the Academia Europaea (1998).