Stochastic and Nonlinear Climate Dynamics

Wang, Peng, James C. McWilliams, Yusuke Uchiyama, Mickaël D. Chekroun, and Daling Li Yi. 2020. “Effects of wave streaming and wave variations on nearshore wave-driven circulation.” J. Phys. Oceanograhy 50 (10): 3025-3041. Publisher's Version Abstract

Wave streaming is a near-bottom mean current induced by the bottom drag on surface gravity waves. Wave variations include the variations in wave heights, periods, and directions. Here we use numerical simulations to study the effects of wave streaming and wave variations on the circulation that is driven by incident surface waves. Wave streaming induces an inner-shelf Lagrangian overturning circulation, which links the inner shelf with the surf zone. Wave variations cause along shore-variable wave breaking that produces surf eddies; however, such eddies can be suppressed by wave streaming. Moreover, with passive tracers we show that wave streaming and wave variations together enhance the cross- shelf material transport.

Chekroun, Mickaël D., Ilan Koren, and Honghu Liu. 2020. “Efficient reduction for diagnosing Hopf bifurcation in delay differential systems: Applications to cloud-rain models.” Chaos: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Nonlinear Science 30: 053130 . Publisher's Version Abstract

By means of Galerkin-Koornwinder (GK) approximations, an efficient reduction approach to the Stuart-Landau (SL) normal form and center manifold is presented for a broad class of nonlinear systems of delay differential equations (DDEs) that covers the cases of discrete as well as distributed delays. The focus is on the Hopf bifurcation as the consequence of the critical equilibrium's destabilization resulting from an eigenpair crossing the imaginary axis. The nature of the resulting Hopf bifurcation (super- or subcritical) is then characterized by the inspection of a Lyapunov coefficient easy to determine based on the model's coefficients and delay parameter.  We believe that our approach, which does not rely too much on functional analysis considerations but more on analytic calculations, is suitable  to concrete situations arising in physics applications.

Thus, using this GK approach to the Lyapunov coefficient and SL normal form, the occurrence of Hopf bifurcations in the cloud-rain delay models of Koren and Feingold (KF) on one hand, and Koren, Tziperman and Feingold (KTF), on the other, are analyzed. Noteworthy is the existence for the KF model of large regions of the parameter space for which subcritical and supercritical Hopf bifurcations coexist. These regions are determined in particular by the intensity of the KF model's nonlinear effects. ``Islands'' of supercritical Hopf bifurcations are shown to exist within a subcritical Hopf bifurcation ``sea;'' these islands being bordered by double-Hopf bifurcations occurring when the linearized dynamics at the critical equilibrium exhibit two pairs of purely imaginary eigenvalues. 

Tantet, Alexis, Mickaël D. Chekroun, J. David Neelin, and Henk A. Dijkstra. 2019. “Ruelle–Pollicott Resonances of Stochastic Systems in Reduced State Space. Part III: Application to the Cane–Zebiak Model of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation.” Journal of Statistical Physics 179: 1449–1474. Publisher's Version Abstract

The response of a low-frequency mode of climate variability, El Niño–Southern Oscillation, to stochastic forcing is studied in a high-dimensional model of intermediate complexity, the fully-coupled Cane–Zebiak model (Zebiak and Cane 1987), from the spectral analysis of Markov operators governing the decay of correlations and resonances in the power spectrum. Noise-induced oscillations excited before a supercritical Hopf bifurcation are examined by means of complex resonances, the reduced Ruelle–Pollicott (RP) resonances, via a numerical application of the reduction approach of the first part of this contribution (Chekroun et al. 2019) to model simulations. The oscillations manifest themselves as peaks in the power spectrum which are associated with RP resonances organized along parabolas, as the bifurcation is neared. These resonances and the associated eigenvectors are furthermore well described by the small-noise expansion formulas obtained by Gaspard (2002) and made explicit in the second part of this contribution (Tantet et al. 2019). Beyond the bifurcation, the spectral gap between the imaginary axis and the real part of the leading resonances quantifies the diffusion of phase of the noise-induced oscillations and can be computed from the linearization of the model and from the diffusion matrix of the noise. In this model, the phase diffusion coefficient thus gives a measure of the predictability of oscillatory events representing ENSO. ENSO events being known to be locked to the seasonal cycle, these results should be extended to the non-autonomous case. More generally, the reduction approach theorized in Chekroun et al. (2019), complemented by our understanding of the spectral properties of reference systems such as the stochastic Hopf bifurcation, provides a promising methodology for the analysis of low-frequency variability in high-dimensional stochastic systems.

Pierini, Stefano, Mickaël D. Chekroun, and Michael Ghil. 2018. “The onset of chaos in nonautonomous dissipative dynamical systems: a low-order ocean-model case study.” Nonlinear Processes in Geophysics 25: 671-692. Publisher's Version Abstract

A four-dimensional nonlinear spectral ocean model is used to study the transition to chaos induced by periodic forcing in systems that are nonchaotic in the autonomous limit. The analysis relies on the construction of the system’s pullback attractors (PBAs) through ensemble simulations, based on a large number of initial states in the remote past. A preliminary analysis of the autonomous system is carried out by investigating its bifurcation diagram, as well as by calculating a metric that measures the mean distance between two initially nearby trajectories, along with the system’s entropy. We find that nonchaotic attractors can still exhibit sensitive dependence on initial data over some time interval; this apparent paradox is resolved by noting that the dependence only concerns the phase of the periodic trajectories, and that it disappears once the latter have converged onto the attractor. The periodically forced system, analyzed by the same methods, yields periodic or chaotic PBAs depending on the periodic forcing’s amplitude ε. A new diagnostic method – based on the cross-correlation between two initially nearby trajectories – is proposed to characterize the transition between the two types of behavior. Transition to chaos is found to occur abruptly at a critical value εc and begins with the intermittent emergence of periodic oscillations with distinct phases. The same diagnostic method is finally shown to be a useful tool for autonomous and aperiodically forced systems as well.

Kondrashov, Dmitri, Mickaël D. Chekroun, and Michael Ghil. 2018. “Data-adaptive harmonic decomposition and prediction of Arctic sea ice extent.” Dynamics and Statistics of the Climate System 3 (1): 1. Publisher's Version Abstract

Decline in the Arctic sea ice extent (SIE) is an area of active scientific research with profound socio-economic implications. Of particular interest are reliable methods for SIE forecasting on subseasonal time scales, in particular from early summer into fall, when sea ice coverage in the Arctic reaches its minimum. Here, we apply the recent data-adaptive harmonic (DAH) technique of Chekroun and Kondrashov, (2017), Chaos, 27 for the description, modeling and prediction of the Multisensor Analyzed Sea Ice Extent (MASIE, 2006–2016) data set. The DAH decomposition of MASIE identifies narrowband, spatio-temporal data-adaptive modes over four key Arctic regions. The time evolution of the DAH coefficients of these modes can be modelled and predicted by using a set of coupled Stuart–Landau stochastic differential equations that capture the modes’ frequencies and amplitude modulation in time. Retrospective forecasts show that our resulting multilayer Stuart–Landau model (MSLM) is quite skilful in predicting September SIE compared to year-to-year persistence; moreover, the DAH–MSLM approach provided accurate real-time prediction that was highly competitive for the 2016–2017 Sea Ice Outlook.

Kondrashov, Dmitri, Mickaël D. Chekroun, and Pavel Berloff. 2018. “Multiscale Stuart-Landau Emulators: Application to Wind-Driven Ocean Gyres.” Fluids 3 (1): 21. Publisher's Version Abstract

The multiscale variability of the ocean circulation due to its nonlinear dynamics remains a big challenge for theoretical understanding and practical ocean modeling. This paper demonstrates how the data-adaptive harmonic (DAH) decomposition and inverse stochastic modeling techniques introduced in (Chekroun and Kondrashov, (2017), Chaos, 27), allow for reproducing with high fidelity the main statistical properties of multiscale variability in a coarse-grained eddy-resolving ocean flow. This fully-data-driven approach relies on extraction of frequency-ranked time-dependent coefficients describing the evolution of spatio-temporal DAH modes (DAHMs) in the oceanic flow data. In turn, the time series of these coefficients are efficiently modeled by a family of low-order stochastic differential equations (SDEs) stacked per frequency, involving a fixed set of predictor functions and a small number of model coefficients. These SDEs take the form of stochastic oscillators, identified as multilayer Stuart–Landau models (MSLMs), and their use is justified by relying on the theory of Ruelle–Pollicott resonances. The good modeling skills shown by the resulting DAH-MSLM emulators demonstrates the feasibility of using a network of stochastic oscillators for the modeling of geophysical turbulence. In a certain sense, the original quasiperiodic Landau view of turbulence, with the amendment of the inclusion of stochasticity, may be well suited to describe turbulence.

Decadal DAH mode


Kondrashov, Dmitri, Mickaël D. Chekroun, Xiaojun Yuan, and Michael Ghil. 2018. “Data-adaptive harmonic decomposition and stochastic modeling of Arctic sea ice.” Advances in Nonlinear Geosciences, A. Tsonis, 179-205. Springer. Publisher's Version Abstract

We present and apply a novel method of describing and modeling complex multivariate datasets in the geosciences and elsewhere. Data-adaptive harmonic (DAH) decomposition identifies narrow-banded, spatio-temporal modes (DAHMs) whose frequencies are not necessarily integer multiples of each other. The evolution in time of the DAH coefficients (DAHCs) of these modes can be modeled using a set of coupled Stuart-Landau stochastic differential equations that capture the modes’ frequencies and amplitude modulation in time and space. This methodology is applied first to a challenging synthetic dataset and then to Arctic sea ice concentration (SIC) data from the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). The 36-year (1979–2014) dataset is parsimoniously and accurately described by our DAHMs. Preliminary results indicate that simulations using our multilayer Stuart-Landau model (MSLM) of SICs are stable for much longer time intervals, beyond the end of the twenty-first century, and exhibit interdecadal variability consistent with past historical records. Preliminary results indicate that this MSLM is quite skillful in predicting September sea ice extent.

Chekroun, Mickaël D., Michael Ghil, and J. David Neelin. 2018. “Pullback attractor crisis in a delay differential ENSO model.” Advances in Nonlinear Geosciences, A. Tsonis, 1-33. Springer. Publisher's version Abstract

We study the pullback attractor (PBA) of a seasonally forced delay differential model for the El Ni\~no--Southern Oscillation (ENSO); the model has two delays, associated with a positive and a negative feedback. The control parameter is the intensity of the positive feedback and the PBA undergoes a crisis that consists of a chaos-to-chaos transition. Since  the PBA is dominated by chaotic behavior, we refer to it as a strange PBA. Both chaotic regimes correspond to an overlapping of resonances but the two differ by the properties of this overlapping. The crisis manifests itself by a brutal change not only in the size but also in the shape of the PBA. The change is associated with the sudden disappearance of the most extreme warm (El Ni\~no) and cold (La Ni\~na) events, as one crosses the critical parameter value from below.  The analysis reveals that regions of the strange PBA that survive the crisis are those populated by the most probable states of the system. These regions are those that exhibit robust foldings with respect to perturbations.  The effect of noise on this phase-and-paramater space behavior is then discussed. It is shown that the chaos-to-chaos crisis may or may not survive the addition of small noise to the evolution equation, depending on how the noise enters the latter.



Chekroun, Mickaël D., and Dmitri Kondrashov. 2017. “Data-adaptive harmonic spectra and multilayer Stuart-Landau models.” Chaos: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Nonlinear Science 27 (9): 093110. Publisher's version Abstract

Harmonic decompositions of multivariate time series are considered for which we adopt an integral operator approach with  
periodic semigroup kernels. Spectral decomposition theorems are derived that cover the important cases of two-time statistics drawn from a mixing invariant measure. 

The corresponding eigenvalues can be grouped per Fourier frequency, and are actually given, at each frequency, as the singular values of a cross-spectral matrix depending on the data. These eigenvalues obey furthermore a variational principle that allows us to define naturally a multidimensional power spectrum.  The eigenmodes, as far as they are concerned, exhibit a data-adaptive character manifested in their phase which allows us in turn to define a multidimensional phase spectrum.

The resulting data-adaptive harmonic (DAH) modes allow for reducing the data-driven modeling effort to elemental models stacked per frequency, only coupled at different frequencies by the same noise realization. In particular, the DAH decomposition extracts time-dependent coefficients stacked by Fourier frequency which can be efficiently modeled---provided the decay of temporal correlations is sufficiently well-resolved---within a class of multilayer stochastic models (MSMs) tailored here on stochastic Stuart-Landau oscillators.

Applications to the Lorenz 96 model and to a stochastic heat equation driven by a space-time white noise, are considered. In both cases, the DAH decomposition allows for an extraction of spatio-temporal modes revealing key features of the dynamics in the embedded phase space. The multilayer Stuart-Landau models (MSLMs) are shown to successfully model the typical patterns of the corresponding time-evolving fields, as well as their statistics of occurrence.

Boers, N., M. D. Chekroun, H. Liu, D. Kondrashov, D.-D. Rousseau, A. Svensson, M. Bigler, and M. Ghil. 2017. “Inverse stochastic-dynamic models for high-resolution Greenland ice-core records.” Earth System Dynamics 8: 1171–1190. Publisher's Version Abstract

Proxy records from Greenland ice cores have been studied for several decades, yet many open questions remain regarding the climate variability encoded therein. Here, we use a Bayesian framework for inferring inverse, stochastic-dynamic models from δ18O and dust records of unprecedented, subdecadal temporal resolution. The records stem from the North Greenland Ice Core Project (NGRIP) and we focus on the time interval 59 ka–22 ka b2k. Our model reproduces the dynamical characteristics of both the δ18O and dust proxy records, including the millennial-scale Dansgaard–Oeschger variability, as well as statistical properties such as probability density functions, waiting times and power spectra, with no need for any external forcing. The crucial ingredients for capturing these properties are (i) high-resolution training data; (ii) cubic drift terms; (iii) nonlinear coupling terms between the δ18O and dust time series; and (iv) non-Markovian contributions that represent short-term memory effects.

Chekroun, Mickaël D., Honghu Liu, and James C. McWilliams. 2017. “The emergence of fast oscillations in a reduced primitive equation model and its implications for closure theories.” Computers & Fluids 151: 3-22. Publisher's Version Abstract

The problem of emergence of fast gravity-wave oscillations in rotating, stratified flow is reconsidered. Fast inertia-gravity oscillations have long been considered an impediment to initialization of weather forecasts, and the concept of a “slow manifold” evolution, with no fast oscillations, has been hypothesized. It is shown on a reduced Primitive Equation model introduced by Lorenz in 1980 that fast oscillations are absent over a finite interval in Rossby number but they can develop brutally once a critical Rossby number is crossed, in contradistinction with fast oscillations emerging according to an exponential smallness scenario such as reported in previous studies, including some others by Lorenz. The consequences of this dynamical transition on the closure problem based on slow variables is also discussed. In that respect, a novel variational perspective on the closure problem exploiting manifolds is introduced. This framework allows for a unification of previous concepts such as the slow manifold or other concepts of “fuzzy” manifold. It allows furthermore for a rigorous identification of an optimal limiting object for the averaging of fast oscillations, namely the optimal parameterizing manifold (PM). It is shown through detailed numerical computations and rigorous error estimates that the manifold underlying the nonlinear Balance Equations provides a very good approximation of this optimal PM even somewhat beyond the emergence of fast and energetic oscillations.


Dijkstra, Henk A, Alexis Tantet, Jan Viebahn, Erik Mulder, Mariët Hebbink, Daniele Castellana, Henri van den Pol, et al. 2016. “A numerical framework to understand transitions in high-dimensional stochastic dynamical systems.” Dynamics and Statistics of the Climate System 1 (1): 1-27. Publisher's Version Abstract

Dynamical systems methodology is a mature complementary approach to forward simulation which can be used to investigate many aspects of climate dynamics. With this paper, a review is given on the methods to analyze deterministic and stochastic climate models and show that these are not restricted to low-dimensional toy models, but that they can be applied to models formulated by stochastic partial differential equations. We sketch the numerical implementation of these methods and illustrate these by showing results for two canonical problems in climate dynamics.

Kondrashov, Dmitri, Mickaël D. Chekroun, and Michael Ghil. 2016. “Comment on ``Nonparametric forecasting of low-dimensional dynamical systems''.” Phys. Rev. E 93. American Physical Society: 036201. Publisher's Version Abstract

The comparison performed in Berry et al. [Phys. Rev. E 91, 032915 (2015)] between the skill in predicting the El Niño-Southern Oscillation climate phenomenon by the prediction method of Berry et al. and the “past-noise” forecasting method of Chekroun et al. [Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 108, 11766 (2011)] is flawed. Three specific misunderstandings in Berry et al. are pointed out and corrected.

Chen, C., M. Cane, N. Henderson, D. Lee, D. Chapman, D. Kondrashov, and M. D. Chekroun. 2016. “Diversity, nonlinearity, seasonality and memory effect in ENSO simulation and prediction using empirical model reduction.” Journal of Climate 29 (5): 1809–1830. Publisher's Version Abstract

A suite of empirical model experiments under the empirical model reduction framework are conducted to advance the understanding of ENSO diversity, nonlinearity, seasonality, and the memory effect in the simulation and prediction of tropical Pacific sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies. The model training and evaluation are carried out using 4000-yr preindustrial control simulation data from the coupled model GFDL CM2.1. The results show that multivariate models with tropical Pacific subsurface information and multilevel models with SST history information both improve the prediction skill dramatically. These two types of models represent the ENSO memory effect based on either the recharge oscillator or the time-delayed oscillator viewpoint. Multilevel SST models are a bit more efficient, requiring fewer model coefficients. Nonlinearity is found necessary to reproduce the ENSO diversity feature for extreme events. The nonlinear models reconstruct the skewed probability density function of SST anomalies and improve the prediction of the skewed amplitude, though the role of nonlinearity may be slightly overestimated given the strong nonlinear ENSO in GFDL CM2.1. The models with periodic terms reproduce the SST seasonal phase locking but do not improve the prediction appreciably. The models with multiple ingredients capture several ENSO characteristics simultaneously and exhibit overall better prediction skill for more diverse target patterns. In particular, they alleviate the spring/autumn prediction barrier and reduce the tendency for predicted values to lag the target month value.

Pierini, S., M. Ghil, and M. Chekroun. 2016. “Exploring the pullback attractors of a low-order quasigeostrophic ocean model: the deterministic case.” Journal of Climate 29 (11): 4185-4202. Publisher's Version Abstract

A low-order quasigeostrophic double-gyre ocean model is subjected to an aperiodic forcing that mimics time dependence dominated by interdecadal variability. This model is used as a prototype of an unstable and nonlinear dynamical system with time-dependent forcing to explore basic features of climate change in the presence of natural variability. The study relies on the theoretical framework of nonautonomous dynamical systems and of their pullback attractors (PBAs), that is, of the time-dependent invariant sets attracting all trajectories initialized in the remote past. The existence of a global PBA is rigorously demonstrated for this weakly dissipative nonlinear model. Ensemble simulations are carried out and the convergence to PBAs is assessed by computing the probability density function (PDF) of localization of the trajectories. A sensitivity analysis with respect to forcing amplitude shows that the PBAs experience large modifications if the underlying autonomous system is dominated by small-amplitude limit cycles, while less dramatic changes occur in a regime characterized by large-amplitude relaxation oscillations. The dependence of the attracting sets on the choice of the ensemble of initial states is then analyzed. Two types of basins of attraction coexist for certain parameter ranges; they contain chaotic and nonchaotic trajectories, respectively. The statistics of the former does not depend on the initial states whereas the trajectories in the latter converge to small portions of the global PBA. This complex scenario requires separate PDFs for chaotic and nonchaotic trajectories. General implications for climate predictability are finally discussed.

Kondrashov, Dmitri, Mickaël D. Chekroun, and Michael Ghil. 2015. “Data-driven non-Markovian closure models.” Physica D: Nonlinear Phenomena 297: 33 - 55. Publisher's Version Abstract
Abstract This paper has two interrelated foci: (i) obtaining stable and efficient data-driven closure models by using a multivariate time series of partial observations from a large-dimensional system; and (ii) comparing these closure models with the optimal closures predicted by the Mori–Zwanzig (MZ) formalism of statistical physics. Multilayer stochastic models (MSMs) are introduced as both a generalization and a time-continuous limit of existing multilevel, regression-based approaches to closure in a data-driven setting; these approaches include empirical model reduction (EMR), as well as more recent multi-layer modeling. It is shown that the multilayer structure of \MSMs\ can provide a natural Markov approximation to the generalized Langevin equation (GLE) of the \MZ\ formalism. A simple correlation-based stopping criterion for an EMR–MSM model is derived to assess how well it approximates the \GLE\ solution. Sufficient conditions are derived on the structure of the nonlinear cross-interactions between the constitutive layers of a given \MSM\ to guarantee the existence of a global random attractor. This existence ensures that no blow-up can occur for a broad class of \MSM\ applications, a class that includes non-polynomial predictors and nonlinearities that do not necessarily preserve quadratic energy invariants. The EMR–MSM methodology is first applied to a conceptual, nonlinear, stochastic climate model of coupled slow and fast variables, in which only slow variables are observed. It is shown that the resulting closure model with energy-conserving nonlinearities efficiently captures the main statistical features of the slow variables, even when there is no formal scale separation and the fast variables are quite energetic. Second, an \MSM\ is shown to successfully reproduce the statistics of a partially observed, generalized Lotka–Volterra model of population dynamics in its chaotic regime. The challenges here include the rarity of strange attractors in the model’s parameter space and the existence of multiple attractor basins with fractal boundaries. The positivity constraint on the solutions’ components replaces here the quadratic-energy–preserving constraint of fluid-flow problems and it successfully prevents blow-up.
A.Bousquet,, M. D. Chekroun, Y. Hong, R. Temam, and J. Tribbia. 2015. “Numerical simulations of the humid atmosphere above a mountain.” Mathematics of Climate and Weather Forecasting 1 (1): 96-126. Publisher's Version Abstract

New avenues are explored for the numerical study of the two dimensional inviscid hydrostatic primitive equations of the atmosphere with humidity and saturation, in presence of topography and subject to physically plausible boundary conditions for the system of equations. Flows above a mountain are classically treated by the so-called method of terrain following coordinate system. We avoid this discretization method which induces errors in the discretization of tangential derivatives near the topography. Instead we implement a first order finite volume method for the spatial discretization using the initial coordinates x and p. A compatibility condition similar to that related to the condition of incompressibility for the Navier- Stokes equations, is introduced. In that respect, a version of the projection method is considered to enforce the compatibility condition on the horizontal velocity field, which comes from the boundary conditions. For the spatial discretization, a modified Godunov type method that exploits the discrete finite-volume derivatives by using the so-called Taylor Series Expansion Scheme (TSES), is then designed to solve the equations. We report on numerical experiments using realistic parameters. Finally, the effects of a random small-scale forcing on the velocity equation is numerically investigated.

Chekroun, M. D., J. D. Neelin, D. Kondrashov, J. C. McWilliams, and M. Ghil. 2014. “Rough parameter dependence in climate models and the role of Ruelle-Pollicott resonance.” Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences 111 (5): 1684—1690. Publisher's Version Abstract

Despite the importance of uncertainties encountered in climate model simulations, the fundamental mechanisms at the origin of sensitive behavior of long-term model statistics remain unclear. Variability of turbulent flows in the atmosphere and oceans exhibits recurrent large-scale patterns. These patterns, while evolving irregularly in time, manifest characteristic frequencies across a large range of time scales, from intraseasonal through interdecadal. Based on modern spectral theory of chaotic and dissipative dynamical systems, the associated low-frequency variability may be formulated in terms of Ruelle-Pollicott (RP) resonances. RP resonances encode information on the nonlinear dynamics of the system, and an approach for estimating them—as filtered through an observable of the system—is proposed. This approach relies on an appropriate Markov representation of the dynamics associated with a given observable. It is shown that, within this representation, the spectral gap—defined as the distance between the subdominant RP resonance and the unit circle—plays a major role in the roughness of parameter dependences. The model statistics are the most sensitive for the smallest spectral gaps; such small gaps turn out to correspond to regimes where the low-frequency variability is more pronounced, whereas autocorrelations decay more slowly. The present approach is applied to analyze the rough parameter dependence encountered in key statistics of an El-Niño–Southern Oscillation model of intermediate complexity. Theoretical arguments, however, strongly suggest that such links between model sensitivity and the decay of correlation properties are not limited to this particular model and could hold much more generally.


Kondrashov, K., M. D. Chekroun, A. W. Robertson, and M. Ghil. 2013. “Low-order stochastic model and “past-noise forecasting” of the Madden-Julian oscillation.” Geophysical Research Letters 40 (19): 5303—5310. Publisher's Version Abstract

This paper presents a predictability study of the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) that relies on combining empirical model reduction (EMR) with the “past-noise forecasting” (PNF) method. EMR is a data-driven methodology for constructing stochastic low-dimensional models that account for nonlinearity, seasonality and serial correlation in the estimated noise, while PNF constructs an ensemble of forecasts that accounts for interactions between (i) high-frequency variability (noise), estimated here by EMR, and (ii) the low-frequency mode of MJO, as captured by singular spectrum analysis (SSA). A key result is that—compared to an EMR ensemble driven by generic white noise—PNF is able to considerably improve prediction of MJO phase. When forecasts are initiated from weak MJO conditions, the useful skill is of up to 30 days. PNF also significantly improves MJO prediction skill for forecasts that start over the Indian Ocean.

Chekroun, M. D., D. Kondrashov, and M. Ghil. 2011. “Predicting stochastic systems by noise sampling, and application to the El Niño-Southern Oscillation.” Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences 108 (29): 11766—11771. Publisher's Version Abstract

Interannual and interdecadal prediction are major challenges of climate dynamics. In this article we develop a prediction method for climate processes that exhibit low-frequency variability (LFV). The method constructs a nonlinear stochastic model from past observations and estimates a path of the “weather” noise that drives this model over previous finite-time windows. The method has two steps: (i) select noise samples—or “snippets”—from the past noise, which have forced the system during short-time intervals that resemble the LFV phase just preceding the currently observed state; and (ii) use these snippets to drive the system from the current state into the future. The method is placed in the framework of pathwise linear-response theory and is then applied to an El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) model derived by the empirical model reduction (EMR) methodology; this nonlinear model has 40 coupled, slow, and fast variables. The domain of validity of this forecasting procedure depends on the nature of the system’s pathwise response; it is shown numerically that the ENSO model’s response is linear on interannual time scales. As a result, the method’s skill at a 6- to 16-month lead is highly competitive when compared with currently used dynamic and statistic prediction methods for the Niño-3 index and the global sea surface temperature field.