Atmosphere & climate

Plaut G, Ghil M, Vautard R. Interannual and Interdecadal Variability in 335 Years of Central England Temperatures. Science. 1995;268 (5211) :710–713.Abstract

Understanding the natural variability of climate is important for predicting its near-term evolution. Models of the oceans' thermohaline and wind-driven circulation show low-frequency oscillations. Long instrumental records can help validate the oscillatory behavior of these models. Singular spectrum analysis applied to the 335-year-long central England temperature (CET) record has identified climate oscillations with interannual (7- to 8-year) and interdecadal (15- and 25-year) periods, probably related to the North Atlantic's wind-driven and thermohaline circulation, respectively. Statistical prediction of oscillatory variability shows CETs decreasing toward the end of this decade and rising again into the middle of the next.

Ghil M, Robertson AW. ``Waves'' vs. ``particles'' in the atmosphere's phase space: A pathway to long-range forecasting?. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2002;99 :2493–2500.Abstract

Thirty years ago, E. N. Lorenz provided some approximate limits to atmospheric predictability. The details—in space and time—of atmospheric flow fields are lost after about 10 days. Certain gross flow features recur, however, after times of the order of 10–50 days, giving hope for their prediction. Over the last two decades, numerous attempts have been made to predict these recurrent features. The attempts have involved, on the one hand, systematic improvements in numerical weather prediction by increasing the spatial resolution and physical faithfulness in the detailed models used for this prediction. On the other hand, theoretical attempts motivated by the same goal have involved the study of the large-scale atmospheric motions’ phase space and the inhomoge- neities therein. These ‘‘coarse-graining’’ studies have addressed observed as well as simulated atmospheric data sets. Two distinct approaches have been used in these studies: the episodic or intermittent and the oscillatory or periodic. The intermittency approach describes multiple-flow (or weather) regimes, their per- sistence and recurrence, and the Markov chain of transitions among them. The periodicity approach studies intraseasonal oscil- lations, with periods of 15–70 days, and their predictability. We review these two approaches, ‘‘particles’’ vs. ‘‘waves,’’ in the quantum physics analogy alluded to in the title of this article, discuss their complementarity, and outline unsolved problems.

Feliks Y, Groth A, Robertson AW, Ghil M. Oscillatory Climate Modes in the Indian Monsoon, North Atlantic and Tropical Pacific. Journal of Climate. 2013;26 :9528-–9544.Abstract

This paper explores the three-way interactions between the Indian monsoon, the North Atlantic and the Tropical Pacific. Four climate records were analyzed: the monsoon rainfall in two Indian regions, the Southern Oscillation Index for the Tropical Pacific, and the NAO index for the North Atlantic. The individual records exhibit highly significant oscillatory modes with spectral peaks at 7–8 yr and in the quasi-biennial and quasi-quadrennial bands. The interactions between the three regions were investigated in the light of the synchronization theory of chaotic oscillators. The theory was applied here by combining multichannel singular-spectrum analysis (M-SSA) with a recently introduced varimax rotation of the M-SSA eigenvectors. A key result is that the 7–8-yr and 2.7-yr oscillatory modes in all three regions are synchronized, at least in part. The energy-ratio analysis, as well as time-lag results, suggest that the NAO plays a leading role in the 7–8-yr mode. It was found therewith that the South Asian monsoon is not slaved to forcing from the equatorial Pacific, although it does interact strongly with it. The time-lag analysis pinpointed this to be the case in particular for the quasi-biennial oscillatory modes. Overall, these results confirm that the approach of synchronized oscillators, combined with varimax-rotated M-SSA, is a powerful tool in studying teleconnections between regional climate modes and that it helps identify the mechanisms that operate in various frequency bands. This approach should be readily applicable to ocean modes of variability and to the problems of air-sea interaction as well.

Kondrashov D, Kravtsov S, Ghil M. Empirical mode reduction in a model of extratropical low-frequency variability. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences. 2006;63 (7) :1859–1877.Abstract

This paper constructs and analyzes a reduced nonlinear stochastic model of extratropical low-frequency variability. To do so, it applies multilevel quadratic regression to the output of a long simulation of a global baroclinic, quasigeostrophic, three-level (QG3) model with topography; the model's phase space has a dimension of O(104). The reduced model has 45 variables and captures well the non-Gaussian features of the QG3 model's probability density function (PDF). In particular, the reduced model's PDF shares with the QG3 model its four anomalously persistent flow patterns, which correspond to opposite phases of the Arctic Oscillation and the North Atlantic Oscillation, as well as the Markov chain of transitions between these regimes. In addition, multichannel singular spectrum analysis identifies intraseasonal oscillations with a period of 35–37 days and of 20 days in the data generated by both the QG3 model and its low-dimensional analog. An analytical and numerical study of the reduced model starts with the fixed points and oscillatory eigenmodes of the model's deterministic part and uses systematically an increasing noise parameter to connect these with the behavior of the full, stochastically forced model version. The results of this study point to the origin of the QG3 model's multiple regimes and intraseasonal oscillations and identify the connections between the two types of behavior.