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Climate change, bifurcation diagram, hysteresis


Climate | Dynamical Systems | Mathematics | Non-linear Dynamics | Ordinary Differential Equations and Applied Dynamics | Physical Sciences and Mathematics | Science and Mathematics Education


The environmental phenomenon of climate change is of critical importance to today's science and global communities. Differential equations give a powerful lens onto this phenomenon, and so we should commit to discussing the mathematics of this environmental issue in differential equations courses. Doing so highlights the power of linking differential equations to environmental and social justice causes, and also brings important science to the forefront in the mathematics classroom. In this paper, we provide an extended problem, appropriate for a first course in differential equations, that uses bifurcation analysis to study climate change. Specifically, through studying hysteresis, this problem highlights how it may be the case that damage done to the environment by a small change cannot be reversed merely by undoing that small change. In addition to the problem itself, we elaborate on the mathematics, discuss implementation strategies, and provide examples of student work. Students in a mathematics classroom do not necessarily expect to confront such issues of social justice or environmental concerns, but we see it as our moral obligation as educators to include such lessons in our classes so that our students can become well-informed global citizens.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License



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