From chaos to structure in turbulent plasma & planetary flows

There is a recent upsurge of interest world-wide in the selfstructuring properties of quasi two-dimensional flows, motivated by the need to control transport in next-step fusion energy experiments and understand variations in planetary circulations mediated by climate change. What is the deeper physics behind the remarkable fact that in such flows ordered structures and patterns can arise from chaotic or turbulent fluid motions? Since thermodynamics tells us that disorder or entropy tends to increase, such behaviour may seem counterintuitive.

In this project you will study equations of motion for planetary flows in the geostrophic approximation and for magnetic fusion plasmas in the electrostatic approximation, and compare and contrast the physics expressed by each system.