Statistical methods

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.

Groth A, Ghil M, Hallegatte S, Dumas P. The Role of Oscillatory Modes in U.S. Business Cycles. Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM) [Internet]. 2012;26 :1. Publisher's VersionAbstract

We apply the advanced time-and-frequency-domain method of singular spectrum analysis to study business cycle dynamics in a set of nine U.S. macroeconomic indicators. This method provides a robust way to identify and reconstruct shared oscillations, whether intermittent or modulated. We address the problem of spurious cycles generated by the use of detrending filters and present a Monte Carlo test to extract significant oscillations. Finally, we demonstrate that the behavior of the U.S. economy changes significantly between episodes of growth and recession; these variations cannot be generated by random shocks alone, in the absence of endogenous variability.

Feliks Y, Ghil M, Robertson AW. Oscillatory Climate Modes in the Eastern Mediterranean and Their Synchronization with the North Atlantic Oscillation. Journal of Climate. 2010;23 (15) :4060–4079.Abstract

Oscillatory climatic modes over the North Atlantic, Ethiopian Plateau, and eastern Mediterranean were examined in instrumental and proxy records from these regions. Aside from the well-known North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index and the Nile River water-level records, the authors study for the first time an instrumental rainfall record from Jerusalem and a tree-ring record from the Golan Heights. The teleconnections between the regions were studied in terms of synchronization of chaotic oscillators. Standard methods for studying synchronization among such oscillators are modified by combining them with advanced spectral methods, including singular spectrum analysis. The resulting cross-spectral analysis quantifies the strength of the coupling together with the degree of synchronization. A prominent oscillatory mode with a 7–8-yr period is present in all the climatic indices studied here and is completely synchronized with the North Atlantic Oscillation. An energy analysis of the synchronization raises the possibility that this mode originates in the North Atlantic. Evidence is discussed for this mode being induced by the 7–8-yr oscillation in the position of the Gulf Stream front. A mechanism for the teleconnections between the North Atlantic, Ethiopian Plateau, and eastern Mediterranean is proposed, and implications for interannual-to-decadal climate prediction are discussed.

Kondrashov D, Shprits Y, Ghil M. Gap Filling of Solar Wind Data by Singular Spectrum Analysis. Geophysical Research Letters. 2010;37 :L15101.Abstract

Observational data sets in space physics often contain instrumental and sampling errors, as well as large gaps. This is both an obstacle and an incentive for research, since continuous data sets are typically needed for model formulation and validation. For example, the latest global empirical models of Earth's magnetic field are crucial for many space weather applications, and require time continuous solar wind and interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) data; both of these data sets have large gaps before 1994. Singular spectrum analysis (SSA) reconstructs missing data by using an iteratively inferred, smooth “signal” that captures coherent modes, while “noise” is discarded. In this study, we apply SSA to fill in large gaps in solar wind and IMF data, by combining it with geomagnetic indices that are time continuous, and generalizing it to multivariate geophysical data consisting of gappy “driver” and continuous “response” records. The reconstruction error estimates provide information on the physics of co variability between particular solar wind parameters and geomagnetic indices.

Strounine K, Kravtsov S, Kondrashov D, Ghil M. Reduced models of atmospheric low-frequency variability: Parameter estimation and comparative performance. Physica D: Nonlinear Phenomena. 2010;239 (3) :145–166.Abstract

Low-frequency variability (LFV) of the atmosphere refers to its behavior on time scales of 10–100 days, longer than the life cycle of a mid-latitude cyclone but shorter than a season. This behavior is still poorly understood and hard to predict. The present study compares various model reduction strategies that help in deriving simplified models of LFV. Three distinct strategies are applied here to reduce a fairly realistic, high-dimensional, quasi-geostrophic, 3-level (QG3) atmospheric model to lower dimensions: (i) an empirical–dynamical method, which retains only a few components in the projection of the full QG3 model equations onto a specified basis, and finds the linear deterministic and the stochastic corrections empirically as in Selten (1995) [5]; (ii) a purely dynamics-based technique, employing the stochastic mode reduction strategy of Majda et al. (2001) [62]; and (iii) a purely empirical, multi-level regression procedure, which specifies the functional form of the reduced model and finds the model coefficients by multiple polynomial regression as in Kravtsov et al. (2005) [3]. The empirical–dynamical and dynamical reduced models were further improved by sequential parameter estimation and benchmarked against multi-level regression models; the extended Kalman filter was used for the parameter estimation. Overall, the reduced models perform better when more statistical information is used in the model construction. Thus, the purely empirical stochastic models with quadratic nonlinearity and additive noise reproduce very well the linear properties of the full QG3 model’s LFV, i.e. its autocorrelations and spectra, as well as the nonlinear properties, i.e. the persistent flow regimes that induce non-Gaussian features in the model’s probability density function. The empirical–dynamical models capture the basic statistical properties of the full model’s LFV, such as the variance and integral correlation time scales of the leading LFV modes, as well as some of the regime behavior features, but fail to reproduce the detailed structure of autocorrelations and distort the statistics of the regimes. Dynamical models that use data assimilation corrections do capture the linear statistics to a degree comparable with that of empirical–dynamical models, but do much less well on the full QG3 model’s nonlinear dynamics. These results are discussed in terms of their implications for a better understanding and prediction of LFV.

Jiang N, Neelin JD, Ghil M. Quasi-quadrennial and quasi-biennial variability in the equatorial Pacific. Climate Dynamics. 1995;12 :101–112.Abstract

Evaluation of competing El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) theories requires one to identify separate spectral peaks in equatorial wind and sea-surface temperature (SST) time series. To sharpen this identification, we examine the seasonal-to-interannual variability of these fields by the data-adaptive method of multi-channel singular spectrum analysis (M-SSA). M-SSA is applied to the equatorial band (4°N-4°S), using 1950 1990 data from the Comprehensive Ocean and Atmosphere Data Set. Two major interannual oscillations are found in the equatorial SST and surface zonal wind fields, U. The main peak is centered at about 52-months; we refer to it as the quasi-quadrennial (QQ) mode. Quasi-biennial (QB) variability is split between two modes, with periods near 28 months and 24 months. A faster, 15-month oscillation has smaller amplitude. The QQ mode dominates the variance and has the most distinct spectral peak. In time-longitude reconstructions of this mode, the SST has the form of a standing oscillation in the eastern equatorial Pacific, while the U-field is dominated by a standing oscillation pattern in the western Pacific and exhibits also slight eastward propagation in the central and western Pacific. The locations of maximum anomalies in both QB modes are similar to those of the QQ mode. Slight westward migration in SST, across the eastern and central, and eastward propagation of U, across the western and central Pacific, are found. The significant wind anomaly covers a smaller region than for the QQ. The QQ and QB modes together represent the ENSO variability well and interfere constructively during major events. The sharper definition of the QQ spectral peak and its dominance are consistent with the “devil's staircase” interaction mechanism between the annual cycle and ENSO.

Ghil M, Vautard R. Interdecadal oscillations and the warming trend in global temperature time series. Nature. 1991;350 (6316) :324–327.Abstract

The ability to distinguish a warming trend from natural variability is critical for an understanding of the climatic response to increasing greenhouse-gas concentrations. Here we use singular spectrum analysis1 to analyse the time series of global surface air tem-peratures for the past 135 years2, allowing a secular warming trend and a small number of oscillatory modes to be separated from the noise. The trend is flat until 1910, with an increase of 0.4 °C since then. The oscillations exhibit interdecadal periods of 21 and 16 years, and interannual periods of 6 and 5 years. The interannual oscillations are probably related to global aspects of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon3. The interdecadal oscillations could be associated with changes in the extratropical ocean circulation4. The oscillatory components have combined (peak-to-peak) amplitudes of >0.2 °C, and therefore limit our ability to predict whether the inferred secular warming trend of 0.005 °Cyr-1 will continue. This could postpone incontrovertible detection of the greenhouse warming signal for one or two decades.

Vautard R, Ghil M. Singular spectrum analysis in nonlinear dynamics, with applications to paleoclimatic time series. Physica D. 1989;35 (3) :395–424.Abstract

We distinguish between two dimensions of a dynamical system given by experimental time series. Statistical dimension gives a theoretical upper bound for the minimal number of degrees of freedom required to describe tje attractor up to the accuracy of the data, taking into account sampling and noise problems. The dynamical dimension is the intrinsic dimension of the attractor and does not depend on the quality of the data. Singular Spectrum Analysis (SSA) provides estimates of the statistical dimension. SSA also describes the main physical phenomena reflected by the data. It gives adaptive spectral filters associated with the dominant oscillations of the system and clarifies the noise characteristics of the data. We apply SSA to four paleoclimatic records. The principal climatic oscillations, and the regime changes in their amplitude are detected. About 10 degrees of freedom are statistically significant in the data. Large noise and insufficient sample length do not allow reliable estimates of the dynamical dimension.

Kondrashov D, Feliks Y, Ghil M. Oscillatory modes of extended Nile River records (A.D. 622–1922). Geophysical Research Letters. 2005;32 (10) :L10702.Abstract

The historical records of the low- and high-water levels of the Nile River are among the longest climatic records that have near-annual resolution. There are few gaps in the first part of the records (A.D. 622-1470) and larger gaps later (A.D. 1471-1922). We apply advanced spectral methods, Singular-Spectrum Analysis (SSA) and the Multi-Taper Method (MTM), to fill the gaps and to locate interannual and interdecadal periodicities. The gap filling uses a novel, iterative version of SSA. Our analysis reveals several statistically significant features of the records: a nonlinear, data-adaptive trend that includes a 256-year cycle, a quasi-quadriennial (4.2-year) and a quasi-biennial (2.2-year) mode, as well as additional periodicities of 64, 19, 12, and, most strikingly, 7 years. The quasi-quadriennial and quasi-biennial modes support the long-established connection between the Nile River discharge and the El-Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon in the Indo-Pacific Ocean. The longest periods might be of astronomical origin. The 7-year periodicity, possibly related to the biblical cycle of lean and fat years, seems to be due to North Atlantic influences.

Moron V, Vautard R, Ghil M. Trends, interdecadal and interannual oscillations in global sea-surface temperatures. Climate Dynamics. 1998;14 (7) :545–569.Abstract

This study aims at a global description of climatic phenomena that exhibit some regularity during the twentieth century. Multi-channel singular spectrum analysis is used to extract long-term trends and quasi-regular oscillations of global sea-surface temperature (SST) fields since 1901. Regional analyses are also performed on the Pacific, (Northern and Southern) Atlantic, and Indian Ocean basins. The strongest climatic signal is the irregular long-term trend, characterized by overall warming during 1910–1940 and since 1975, with cooling (especially of the Northern Hemisphere) between these two warming intervals. Substantial cooling prevailed in the North Pacific between 1950 and 1980, and continues in the North Atlantic today. Both cooling and warming are preceded by SST anomalies of the same sign in the subpolar North Atlantic. Near-decadal oscillations are present primarily over the North Atlantic, but also over the South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean. A 13–15-y oscillation exhibits a seesaw pattern between the Gulf-Stream region and the North-Atlantic Drift and affects also the tropical Atlantic. Another 7–8-y oscillation involves the entire double-gyre circulation of the North Atlantic, being mostly of one sign across the basin, with a minor maximum of opposite sign in the subpolar gyre and the major maximum in the northwestern part of the subtropical gyre. Three distinct interannual signals are found, with periods of about 60–65, 45 and 24–30 months. All three are strongest in the tropical Eastern Pacific. The first two extend throughout the whole Pacific and still exhibit some consistent, albeit weak, patterns in other ocean basins. The latter is weaker overall and has no consistent signature outside the Pacific. The 60-month oscillation obtains primarily before the 1960s and the 45-month oscillation afterwards.

Groth A, Dumas P, Ghil M, Hallegatte S. Impacts of natural disasters on a dynamic economy. In: Chavez E, Ghil M, Urrutia-Fucugauchi J Extreme Events : Observations, Modeling, and Economics. American Geophysical Union and Wiley-Blackwell ; 2015. pp. 343–360.Abstract

This chapter presents a modeling framework for macroeconomic growth dynamics; it is motivated by recent attempts to formulate and study “integrated models” of the coupling between natural and socioeconomic phe­ nomena. The challenge is to describe the interfaces between human activities and the functioning of the earth system. We examine the way in which this interface works in the presence of endogenous business cycle dynam­ ics, based on a nonequilibrium dynamic model. Recent findings about the macroeconomic response to natural disasters in such a nonequilibrium setting have shown a more severe response to natural disasters during expan­ sions than during recessions. These findings raise questions about the assessment of climate change damages or natural disaster losses that are based purely on long-term growth models. In order to compare the theoretical findings with observational data, we analyze cyclic behavior in the U.S. economy, based on multivariate singular spectrum analysis. We analyze a total of nine aggregate indicators in a 52 year interval (1954–2005) and demon­ strate that the behavior of the U.S. economy changes significantly between intervals of growth and recession, with higher volatility during expansions.