π-theorem generalization of the ice-age theory

Verbitsky, Mikhail Y.; Crucifix, Michel

Analyzing a dynamical system describing the global climate variations requires, in principle, exploring a large space spanned by the numerous parameters involved in this model. Dimensional analysis is traditionally employed to deal with equations governing physical phenomena to reduce the number of parameters to be explored, but it does not work well with dynamical ice-age models, because, as a rule, the number of parameters in such systems is much larger than the number of independent dimensions. Physical reasoning may, however, allow us to reduce the number of effective parameters and apply dimensional analysis in a way that is insightful. We show this with a specific ice-age model (Verbitsky et al., 2018), which is a low-order dynamical system based on ice-flow physics coupled with a linear climate feedback. In this model, the ratio of positive-to-negative feedback is effectively captured by a dimensionless number called the “inline-formulaV number”, which aggregates several parameters and, hence, reduces the number of governing parameters. This allows us to apply the central theorem of the dimensional analysis, the inline-formulaπ theorem, efficiently. Specifically, we show that the relationship between the amplitude and duration of glacial cycles is governed by a property of scale invariance that does not depend on the physical nature of the underlying positive and negative feedbacks incorporated by the system. This specific example suggests a broader idea; that is, the scale invariance can be deduced as a general property of ice age dynamics if the latter are effectively governed by a single ratio between positive and negative feedbacks.

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Verbitsky, Mikhail Y. / Crucifix, Michel: π-theorem generalization of the ice-age theory. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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Rechteinhaber: Mikhail Y. Verbitsky

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