The extent to which results from the study of chaotic low-order dynamical systems might give insight into the process by which passive tracers are laterally mixed in midocean regions is investigated. Three questions relating to this issue are addressed. (1) Are transient passive tracer distributions in the ocean consistent with the efficient stirring associated with chaotic particle trajectories? (2) Do oceanic particle trajectories exhibit extreme sensitivity to their initial conditions? (3) To what extent can oceanic particle trajectories be thought of as being associated with a low-order dynamical system? The answers to these questions suggest, with some uncertainty, that a picture of ocean stirring being associated with a chaotic low-order dynamical system is a useful one.
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