First passage time statistics of Brownian motion with purely time dependent drift and diffusion

A. Molini, P. Talkner, G. G. Katul, Amilcare Michele M. Porporato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

111 Scopus citations


Systems where resource availability approaches a critical threshold are common to many engineering and scientific applications and often necessitate the estimation of first passage time statistics of a Brownian motion (Bm) driven by time-dependent drift and diffusion coefficients. Modeling such systems requires solving the associated Fokker-Planck equation subject to an absorbing barrier. Transitional probabilities are derived via the method of images, whose applicability to time dependent problems is shown to be limited to state-independent drift and diffusion coefficients that only depend on time and are proportional to each other. First passage time statistics, such as the survival probabilities and first passage time densities are obtained analytically. The analysis includes the study of different functional forms of the time dependent drift and diffusion, including power-law time dependence and different periodic drivers. As a case study of these theoretical results, a stochastic model of water resources availability in snowmelt dominated regions is presented, where both temperature effects and snow-precipitation input are incorporated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1841-1852
Number of pages12
JournalPhysica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability


  • Absorbing barrier
  • Brownian motion
  • Snowmelt
  • Time-dependent drift and diffusion


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