The Butterfly Effect

2007-12-04 14:17:32.000 – Linnea Koons,  Summit Intern


The Butterfly Effect; Noun; a term attributed to Edward Lorenz and used to describe the effect a small disturbance can have on a non-linear dynamical system (the atmosphere for example). Also called “sensitivity to initial conditions”, it refers to the idea that the tiny perturbations in the atmosphere caused by the flap of a butterfly’s wings can ultimately set off a tornado or other high powered storm (conversely, it can also prevent such an event).

I was reminded of this phenomenon when Karen and I took a walk down the Auto Road to check on one of the Auto Road Vertical Temperature Profile (ARVTP) sites. Frozen to the road was a monarch butterfly. And who knows, had it not succumbed on the side of Mt Washington it may have been the instrumental force in preventing the yesterday’s storm.


Linnea Koons,  Summit Intern

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