Uncertainty and Chaos in Shallow Flows

Uncertainty and Chaos in Shallow Flows

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Uncertainty (1350–1400 Middle English uncerteynte) involves a state of limited knowledge where it is impossible exactly to describe the present state and future outcome(s). Chaos (from the ancient Greek, Χαος or Khaos – the first of the gods) has several meanings. One, a state of disorder and confusion. Another, a state governed by chance (such as in the original chasm between heaven and earth, later described by classical scholars as primordial soup).  The third, a state of complexity that is highly sensitive to extremely small changes in initial conditions. The third meaning is applicable to many natural systems, such as weather, and used here. This lecture will examine uncertainty propagation and chaotic advection in the context of shallow environmental flows.  First, we will consider the effect of uncertainty in bed roughness on available tidal stream power. This is important to developers and regulators concerned with renewable energy extraction from tidal channels.  Second, we will examine the wind-driven chaotic advection of particles due to stirrers in a container, wind-induced circulation in shallow lakes, and eddies behind an obstacle.  These are relevant to mixing processes, water quality, and even eutrophication. The lecture will illustrate the usefulness of uncertainty methods in hydraulic engineering, and chaotic advection in environmental engineering. 

Short Biography of Professor Alistair Borthwick:

Alistair Borthwick has 40 years’ experience in Civil and Environmental Engineering.  He is Professor of Applied Hydrodynamics at The University of Edinburgh and an Emeritus Fellow at St Edmund Hall, Oxford.  He was previously Professor of Engineering Science at the University of Oxford, where he worked for 21 years from 1990-2011.  He was Head of Civil and Environmental Engineering at University College Cork from 2011-13, where he was the Founding Director of the SFI Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy Ireland (MaREI). Prof. Borthwick’s research interests include environmental fluid mechanics, river basin management, coastal and ocean engineering, and marine renewable energy.  Prof. Borthwick is a Fellow of the UK Royal Academy of Engineering, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.



Professor Alistair Borthwick
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