A study of abrupt climate change in a simple nonlinear climate model Academic Article uri icon


  • We use a seasonal energy balance climate model to study the behavior of the snowline cycle as a function of external parameters such as the solar constant. Our studies are confined in this study to cases with zonally symmetric land-sea distributions (bands or caps of land). The model is nonlinear in that the seasonally varying snow/sea ice line modifies the energy receipt through its different albedo from open land or water. The repeating steady-state seasonal cycle of the model is solved by a truncated Fourier series in time. This method is several thousand times faster than a time stepping approach. The results are interesting in that a number of bifurcations in the snowline behavior are found and studied for various geographies. Polar land caps and land bands positioned near the poles exhibit a variety of discontinuous summer snow cover behaviors (abrupt transitions as a parameter such as solar constant is slowly varied), which may be relevant to the inception and decay of continental ice sheets. 1990 Springer-Verlag.

published proceedings

  • Climate Dynamics

author list (cited authors)

  • Lin, R. Q., & North, G. R.

citation count

  • 30

complete list of authors

  • Lin, RQ||North, GR

publication date

  • October 1990