The Dictionary of the Climate Debate (DCD)

Lorenz, Edward

He coined the term Butterfly Effect
He coined the term Butterfly Effect

(1917 - 2008) An MIT Professor who in the 1950s was highly critical of the use of linear statistical models in meteorology because most of the atmospheric phenomena involved in weather forecasting are non-linear. His work in this area culminated in the publication of his 1963 paper Deterministic Nonperiodic Flow and with it the foundation of Chaos theory. Click here to read the paper.

A brief explanation of chaos theory

1. While experimenting with computer models of weather patterns, Lorenz observed that minute variations in a variable's initial values would result in greatly divergent weather patterns. This sensitive dependence on initial conditions came to be known as the butterfly effect. For an elaboration of his thinking on this topic, click here to read his 1970 paper Climatic Change as a Mathematical Problem.

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