Particles from industrial accidents have the potential to travel full hemispheres before falling to the ground.
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A new model drawing on chaos theory, and published in this week's Chaos , from AIP Publishing, looks to help predict how particles move in such events with an eye toward potential applications for geoengineering to combat climate change. Using it, she has generated maps that can be used as atlases to predict how particles, such as volcanic ash or pollution, will be dispersed above the world.
Atmospheric particle motion exhibits fractal-like behavior, and when data is specially filtered, an object that governs chaotic particle motion and is called a chaotic saddle can be found. The paths of each simulated particle show properties that are transiently brought together by the changes in the flow of the atmosphere, akin to sitting on the saddle, before falling off the saddle and, consequently, falling to Earth.
In general, she found that particles coming from the area around the equator remain in the atmosphere for the longest time, and particles smaller than one micron could stay in the atmosphere for years before falling. The average lifetime of a particle in the air is about one month, but they also found that particles in one area of a map could be in the air up to 10 times as long as particles nearby on the map. How these lifetimes were distributed around the globe varied depending on the season.
To illustrate the concepts in the paper, Haszpra has created an online game, called RePLaT-Chaos, that lets players learn the topic of atmospheric advection by creating and testing their own volcanic eruptions. Haszpra believes her findings can inform future efforts that have been suggested to use sun-reflecting air particles to counteract climate change.
She plans to expand on this work by incorporating historical meteorological data and climate models to better understand how the dispersion of particles might change when the climate changes. Materials provided by American Institute of Physics. Note: Content may be edited for style and length. Science News.
What is Chaos Theory?
The mathematical concepts used to understand physical systems are now being applied to social environments such as politics, economics, business, and other social sciences. Although applying Chaos Theory to business settings is still in its infancy, social scientists describe the following applications as useful when making business decisions. A history of chaos theory. Dialogues in Clinical Neurosciene, 9 3 , Is strategic decision making chaotic? Systems Research and Behavioral Science, 35 3 , Strategic Management Journal, 15 , Recommendations 2.
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Useful Tools and Resources. Instead of trying to predict long-term future outcomes, businesses should consider and plan for multiple possible outcomes. Chaos theory reminds business owners that small changes in business practice can lead to huge changes in future outcomes based on the concept of sensitive dependence on initial conditions. Some business managers underestimate the possibility for large unexpected changes, and should reconsider their mindset on this matter.
Chaos theory assumes that there is order behind seemingly random events.
What Is Chaos Theory?
Even though businesses may not be helped by making long-term future predictions, they can make short-term forecasts to help with business decisions. Because of the complexity and unpredictability inherent in complex systems, businesses need clear guidelines for employees to follow. However, since sudden and drastic changes are bound to occur, business owners should be ready to adapt these guidelines as necessary.
References [i] Oestreicher, C.