Statistical methods

1992
Vautard, Robert, Pascal Yiou, and Michael Ghil. 1992. “Singular-spectrum analysis: A toolkit for short, noisy chaotic signals.” Physica D 58 (1–4): 95–126. Abstract
Singular-spectrum analysis (SSA) is developed further, based on experience with applications to geophysical time series. It is shown that SSA provides a crude but robust approximation of strange attractors by tori, in the presence of noise. The method works well for short, noisy time series. The lagged-covariance matrix of the processes studied is the basis of SSA. We select subsets of eigenelements and associated principal components (PCs) in order to provide (i) a noise-reduction algorithm, (ii) a detrending algorithm, and (iii) an algorithm for the identification of oscillatory components. Reconstructed components (RCs) are developed to provide optimal reconstruction of a dynamic process at precise epochs, rather than averaged over the window length of the analysis. SSA is combined with advanced spectral-analysis methods - the maximum entropy method (MEM) and the multi-taper method (MTM) - to refine the interpretation of oscillatory behavior. A combined SSA-MEM method is also used for the prediction of selected subsets of RCs. The entire toolkit is validated against a set of four prescribed time series generated by known processes, quasi-periodic or chaotic. It is also applied to a time series of global surface air temperatures, 130 years long, which has attracted considerable attention in the context of the global warming issue and provides a severe test for noise reduction and prediction.
1991
Ghil, Michael, and Robert Vautard. 1991. “Interdecadal oscillations and the warming trend in global temperature time series.” Nature 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.

1989
Vautard, Robert, and Michael Ghil. 1989. “Singular spectrum analysis in nonlinear dynamics, with applications to paleoclimatic time series.” Physica D 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.

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