Natural variability of atmospheric temperatures and geomagnetic intensity over a wide range of time scales

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The majority of numerical models in climatology and geomagnetism rely on deterministic finite-difference techniques and attempt to include as many empirical constraints on the many processes and boundary conditions applicable to their very complex systems. Despite their sophistication, many of these models are unable to reproduce basic aspects of climatic or geomagnetic dynamics. We show that a simple stochastic model, which treats the flux of heat energy in the atmosphere by convective instabilities with random advection and diffusive mixing, does a remarkable job at matching the observed power spectrum of historical and proxy records for atmospheric temperatures from time scales of one day to one million years (Myr). With this approach distinct changes in the power-spectral form can be associated with characteristic time scales of ocean mixing and radiative damping. Similarly, a simple model of the diffusion of magnetic intensity in Earth's core coupled with amplification and destruction of the local intensity can reproduce the observed 1/f noise behavior of Earth's geomagnetic intensity from time scales of 1 (Myr) to 100 yr. In addition, the statistics of the fluctuations in the polarity reversal rate from time scales of 1 Myr to 100 Myr are consistent with the hypothesis that reversals are the result of variations in 1/f noise geomagnetic intensity above a certain threshold, suggesting that reversals may be associated with internal fluctuations rather than changes in mantle thermal or magnetic boundary conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2546-2553
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Feb 19 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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