Lab Home | Phone | Search
Center for Nonlinear Studies  Center for Nonlinear Studies
 Colloquia Archive 
 Postdoc Seminars Archive 
 Quantum Lunch 
 CMS Colloquia 
 Q-Mat Seminars 
 Q-Mat Seminars Archive 
 Kac Lectures 
 Dist. Quant. Lecture 
 Ulam Scholar 
 Summer Research 
 Past Visitors 
 History of CNLS 
 Maps, Directions 
 CNLS Office 
Monday, March 09, 2015
3:00 PM - 4:00 PM
CNLS Conference Room (TA-3, Bldg 1690)


Pattern Formation in the Drylands: Self Organization in Semi-Arid Ecosystems

Mary Silber
Northwestern University

Much of our understanding of spontaneous pattern formation in spatially extended systems was developed in the “wetlands" of fluid mechanics. That setting allowed well-controlled table-top laboratory experiments; it came with fundamental equations governing the system; it benefitted from a back-and-forth between theory and experiment. These investigations identified robust mechanisms for spontaneous pattern formation, and inspired the development of equivariant bifurcation theory. Recently, these pattern formation perspectives have been applied to modeling the vegetation in dryland ecosystems, where satellite images have revealed strikingly regular spatial patterns on large scales. Ecologists have proposed that characteristics of vegetation pattern formation in these water-limited ecosystems may serve as an early warning sign of impending desertification. We use the framework of equivariant bifurcation theory to investigate the mathematical robustness of this approach to probing an ecosystem’s robustness. Additionally, we identify new applied pattern formation research directions in this far-from-pristine setting, where there are no fundamental equations and no controlled laboratory experiments.

Host: Ivan Christov