Traveling stripes in the Klausmeier model of vegetation pattern formation

Paul Carter, Arjen Doelman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The Klausmeier equation is a widely studied reaction-diffusion-advection model of vegetation pattern formation on gently sloped terrain in semiarid ecosystems. We consider the case of constantly sloped terrain and study the formation of planar vegetation stripe patterns which align in the direction transverse to the slope and travel uphill. These patterns arise as solutions to an underlying traveling wave equation, which admits a separation of scales due to the fact that water flows downhill faster than the rate at which vegetation diffuses. We rigorously construct solutions corresponding to single vegetation stripes as well as long wavelength spatially periodic wave trains using geometric singular perturbation theory. Blow-up desingularization methods are needed to understand slow passage of solutions near a degenerate transcritical bifurcation. The underlying geometry of the traveling wave equation predicts relations between pattern wavelength, speed, and terrain slope.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3213-3237
Number of pages25
JournalSIAM Journal on Applied Mathematics
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The first author’s work was supported by NSF grant DMS–1815315.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.


  • Blow-up desingularization
  • Geometric singular perturbation theory
  • Pattern formation
  • Reaction diffusion advection equations
  • Traveling waves


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