Understanding the Chaotic Nature of Weather

Josh Kastorf | EAPS News
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Can a small-scale movement in the atmosphere, like the flap of a butterfly’s wing, influence large-scale systems like hurricanes? As hurricane Florence barrels down on the east coast, MIT’s EAPS and Lorenz Center take a look at the history of weather research and how a discovery by MIT meteorologist and mathematician Edward N. Lorenz on chaos explains why weather can be difficult to predict far into the future.

Story Image: Tracking aerosols over land and water from August 1 to November 1, 2017. Hurricanes and tropical storms are obvious from the large amounts of sea salt particles caught up in their swirling winds. The dust blowing off the Sahara, however, gets caught by water droplets and is rained out of the storm system. Smoke from the massive fires in the Pacific Northwest region of North America are blown across the Atlantic to the UK and Europe. This visualization is a result of combining NASA satellite data with sophisticated mathematical models that describe the underlying physical processes. (Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)