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Nonlinear Processes in Geophysics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/npg-2020-13
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/npg-2020-13
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: review article 11 May 2020

Submitted as: review article | 11 May 2020

Review status
This preprint is currently under review for the journal NPG.

Hilbert problems for the geosciences in the 21st century – 20 years later

Michael Ghil1,2, Michael Ghil
  • 1Ecole Normale Supérieure and PSL University, Paris, France
  • 2University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA
  • Invited contribution by Michael Ghil, recipient of the EGU Lewis Fry Richardson Medal 2004.

Abstract. The scientific problems posed by the Earth's atmosphere, oceans, cryosphere – along with the land surface and biota that interact with them – are central to major socio-economic and political concerns in the 21st century. It is natural, therefore, that a certain impatience should prevail in attempting to solve these problems. The point of a review paper published in this journal in 2001 was that one should proceed with all diligence, but not excessive haste: festina lente, i.e. hurry in a measured way. The earlier paper traced the necessary progress through the solutions of ten problems, starting with What can we predict beyond one week, for how long, and by what methods? and ending with Can we achieve enlightened climate control of our planet by the end of the century?

A unified framework was proposed to deal with these problems in succession, from the shortest to the longest time scale, i.e. from weeks to centuries and millennia. The framework is that of dynamical systems theory, with an emphasis on successive bifurcations and the ergodic theory of nonlinear systems, on the one hand, and on pursuing this approach across a hierarchy of climate models, from the simplest, highly idealized ones, to the most detailed ones. Here, we revisit some of these problems, 20 years later, and extend the framework to coupled climate-economics modeling.

Michael Ghil

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Short summary
This review paper covers progress in the climate sciences in the past two decades, through the perspective of ten major problems for the geosciences in the 21st century. It concentrates on the last of these ten, Can we achieve enlightened climate control of our planet by the end of the century? Coupled climate-economy modeling is described as a main tool in achieving such control, while emphasizing the role of nonlinear, intrinsic variability and of the uncertainties in the two subsystems.
This review paper covers progress in the climate sciences in the past two decades, through the...
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