# Attractor

From Glossary of Meteorology

## attractor

A stable equilibrium state having the property that small departures from the equilibrium continually diminish.

An attractor may be represented in a coordinate system as a single point (the usual case) or as a bounded set of infinitely many points (as in the case of a limit cycle). A strange attractor is an attractor containing an infinite number of points and having the property that small changes in neighboring states give rise to large and apparently unpredictable changes in the evolution of the system. The best-known example of a strange attractor in meteorology is that discovered by E. N. Lorenz (1963) in solutions to a simplified set of equations describing the motion of air in a horizontal layer heated from below.

Lorenz, E. N. 1963. Deterministic nonperiodic flow. J. Atmos. Sci.. 20. 130–141.

Copyright 2022 American Meteorological Society (AMS). For permission to reuse any portion of this work, please contact permissions@ametsoc.org. Any use of material in this work that is determined to be “fair use” under Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act (17 U.S. Code § 107) or that satisfies the conditions specified in Section 108 of the U.S.Copyright Act (17 USC § 108) does not require AMS’s permission. Republication, systematic reproduction, posting in electronic form, such as on a website or in a searchable database, or other uses of this material, except as exempted by the above statement, require written permission or a license from AMS. Additional details are provided in the AMS Copyright Policy statement.