Publications by Type: Journal Article

Dettinger, Michael D, Michael Ghil, and Christian L Keppenne. “Interannual and interdecadal variability in United States surface-air temperatures, 1910-87.” Climatic Change 31, no. 1 (1995): 35–66. Abstract
Monthly mean surface-air temperatures at 870 sites in the contiguous United States were analyzed for interannual and interdecadal variability over the time interval 1910-87. The temperatures were analyzed spatially by empirical-orthogonal-function analysis and temporally by singularspectrum analysis (SSA). The dominant modes of spatio-temporal variability are trends and nonperiodic variations with time scales longer than 15 years, decadal-scale oscillations with periods of roughly 7 and 10 years, and interannual oscillations of 2.2 and 3.3 years. Together, these modes contribute about 18% of the slower-than-annual United States temperature variance. Two leading components roughly capture the mean hemispheric temperature trend and represent a long-term warming, largest in the southwest, accompanied by cooling of the domain's southeastern quadrant. The extremes of the 2.2-year interannual oscillation characterize temperature differences between the Northeastern and Southwestern States, whereas the 3.3-year cycle is present mostly in the Western States. The 7- to 10-year oscillations are much less regular and persistent than the interannual oscillations and characterize temperature differences between the western and interior sectors of the United States. These continental- or regional-scale temperature variations may be related to climatic variations with similar periodicities, either global or centered in other regions; such variations include quasi-biennial oscillations over the tropical Pacific or North Atlantic and quasi-triennial oscillations of North Pacific sea-surface temperatures.
Unal, Yurdanur Sezginer, and Michael Ghil. “Interannual and interdecadal oscillation patterns in sea level.” Climate Dynamics 11, no. 5 (1995): 255–278. Abstract

Relative sea-level height (RSLH) data at 213 tide-gauge stations have been analyzed on a monthly and an annual basis to study interannual and interdecadal oscillations, respectively. The main tools of the study are singular spectrum analysis (SSA) and multi-channel SSA (M-SSA). Very-low-frequency variability of RSLH was filtered by SSA to estimate the linear trend at each station. Global sea-level rise, after postglacial rebound corrections, has been found to equal 1.62±0.38 mm/y, by averaging over 175 stations which have a trend consistent with the neighboring ones. We have identified two dominant time scales of El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) variability, quasi-biennial and low-frequency, in the RSLH data at almost all stations. However, the amplitudes of both ENSO signals are higher in the equatorial Pacific and along the west coast of North America. RSLH data were interpolated along ocean coasts by latitudinal intervals of 5 or 10 degrees, depending on station density. Interannual variability was then examined by M-SSA in five regions: eastern Pacific (25°S–55°N at 10° resolution), western Pacific (35°S–45°N at 10°), equatorial Pacific (123°E–169°W, 6 stations), eastern Atlantic (30°S, 0°, and 30°N–70°N at 5°) and western Atlantic (50°S–50°N at 10°). Throughout the Pacific, we have found three dominant spatio-temporal oscillatory patterns, associated with time scales of ENSO variability; their periods are 2, 2.5–3 and 4–6 y. In the eastern Pacific, the biennial mode and the 6-y low-frequency mode propagate poleward. There is a southward propagation of low-frequency modes in the western Pacific RSLH, between 35°N and 5°S, but no clear propagation in the latitudes further south. However, equatorward propagation of the biennial signal is very clear in the Southern Hemisphere. In the equatorial Pacific, both the quasi-quadrennial and quasi-biennial modes at 10°N propagate westward. Strong and weak El Niño years are evident in the sea-level time series reconstructed from the quasi-biennial and low-frequency modes. Interannual variability with periods of 3 and 4–8 y is detected in the Atlantic RSLH data. In the eastern Atlantic region, we have found slow propagation of both modes northward and southward, away from 40–45°N. Interdecadal oscillations were studied using 81 stations with sufficiently long and continuous records. Most of these have variability at 9–13 and some at 18 y. Two significant eigenmode pairs, corresponding to periods of 11.6 and 12.8 y, are found in the eastern and western Atlantic ocean at latitudes 40°N–70°N and 10°N–50°N, respectively.

Plaut, Guy, Michael Ghil, and Robert Vautard. “Interannual and Interdecadal Variability in 335 Years of Central England Temperatures.” Science 268, no. 5211 (1995): 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.

Jiang, N., J. David Neelin, and Michael Ghil. “Quasi-quadrennial and quasi-biennial variability in the equatorial Pacific.” Climate Dynamics 12 (1995): 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.

Plaut, Guy, and Robert Vautard. “Spells of Low-Frequency Oscillations and Weather Regimes in the Northern Hemisphere.” Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences 51, no. 2 (1994): 210–236. Abstract
The low-frequency variability in the midlatitudes is described through an analysis of the oscillatory phenomena. In order to isolate nearly periodic components of the atmospheric flow, the multichannel version of the singular spectrum analysis (M-SSA) is developed and applied to an NMC 32-year long set of 700-hPa geopotential heights. In the same way that principal component analysis identifies the spatial patterns dominating the variability, M-SSA identifies dynamically relevant space?time patterns and provides an adaptive filtering technique. Three major low-frequency oscillations (LFOs) are found, with periods of 70 days, 40?45 days, and 30?35 days. The 70-day oscillation consists of fluctuations in both position and amplitude of the Atlantic jet, with a poleward-propagating anomaly pattern. The 40?45-day oscillation is specific to the Pacific sector and has a pronounced Pacific/North American (PNA) structure in its high-amplitude phase. The 30?35-day mode is confined over the Atlantic region, and consists of the retrogression of a dipole pattern. All these oscillations are shown to be intermittently excited, and M-SSA allows the localization of their spells. The two Atlantic oscillations turn out to be frequently phase locked, so that the 30?35-day mode is likely to be a harmonic of the 70-day mode. The phase locking of the Pacific 40?45-day with the Atlantic 30?35-day oscillations is also studied. Next, the relationships between LFOs and weather regimes are studied. It is shown in particular that the occurrence of the Euro-Atlantic blocking regime is strongly favored, although not systematically caused, by particular phases of the 30?35-day mode. The LFOs themselves are able to produce high-amplitude persistent anomalies by interfering with each other. The transition from a zonal regime to a blocking regime is also shown to be highly connected to the life cycle of the 30?35-day mode, indicating that regime transitions do not result only from the random occurrence of particular transient eddy forcing. There are preferred paths between weather regimes. This result leaves us with the hope that at least the large-scale environment-favoring weather regimes may be forecast in the long range. Conditional probability of occurrence of blocking, 30 days ahead, is enhanced, relative to climatological probability, by a factor of 2 if the phase of the 30?35-day oscillation is known. This also emphasizes the necessity of operational models to represent correctly the extratropical LFOs in order to produce skillful long-range and even medium-range forecasts of weather regimes.
Miller, Robert N., Michael Ghil, and François Gauthiez. “Advanced Data Assimilation in Strongly Nonlinear Dynamical Systems.” Journal of Atmospheric Sciences 51 (1994): 1037–1056.
Ghil, Michael. “Cryothermodynamics: the chaotic dynamics of paleoclimate.” Physica D 77, no. 1-3 (1994): 130–159.
Jin, F.-F., J. David Neelin, and Michael Ghil. “El Niño on the Devil's Staircase: Annual subharmonic steps to chaos.” Science 264 (1994): 70–72.
Penland, Cécile, and Michael Ghil. “Forecasting Northern Hemisphere 700\mbox-mb geopotential height anomalies using empirical normal modes.” Monthly Weather Review 121, no. 8 (1993): 2355–2372. Abstract
Multivariate linear prediction based on single-lag inverse modeling is developed further and critically examined. The method is applied to the National Meteorological Center analyses of Northern Hemisphere 700-mb geopotential height anomalies, which have been filtered to eliminate periods shorter than 10 days. Empirically derived normal modes of the randomly forced linear system are usually correlated, even at zero lag, suggesting that combinations of modes should be used in predictions. Due to nonlinearities in the dynamics and the neglect of interactions with other pressure levels, the lag at which the analysis is performed is crucial; best predictions obtain when the autocovariances involved in the analysis are calculated at a lag comparable to the exponential decay times of the modes. Errors in prediction have a significant seasonal dependence, indicating that the annual cycle affects the higher-order statistics of the field. Optimized linear predictions using this method are useful for about half a day longer than predictions made by persistence. Conditional probabilities are much more efficiently calculated using normal-mode parameters than from histograms, and yield similar results. Maps of the model's Fourier spectra—integrated over specified frequency intervals and consistent with the assumptions made in a linear analysis—agree with maps obtained from fast Fourier transforms of the data.
Kimoto, Masahide, and Michael Ghil. “Multiple flow regimes in the Northern Hemisphere winter. Part I: Methodology and hemispheric regimes.” Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences 50, no. 16 (1993): 2625–2644. Abstract
Recurrent and persistent flow patterns are identified by examining multivariate probability density functions (PDFs) in the phase space of large-scale atmospheric motions. This idea is pursued systematically here in the hope of clarifying the extent to which intraseasonal variability can be described and understood in terms of multiple flow regimes. Bivariate PDFs of the Northern Hemisphere (NH) wintertime anomaly heights at 700 mb are examined in the present paper, using a 37-year dataset. The two-dimensional phase plane is defined by the two leading empirical orthogonal functions (EOFs) of the anomaly fields. PDFs on this plane exhibit synoptically intriguing and statistically significant inhomogeneities on the periphery of the distribution. It is shown that these inhomogeneities are due to the existence of persistent and recurrent anomaly patterns, well-known as dominant teleconnection patterns; that is, the Pacific/North American (PNA) pattern, its reverse, and zonal and blocked phases of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). It is argued that the inhomogeneities are obscured when PDFs are examined in a smaller-dimensional subspace than dynamically desired.
Feliks, Yizhak, and Michael Ghil. “Downwelling-front instability and eddy formation in the Eastern Mediterranean.” Journal of physical oceanography 23, no. 1 (1993): 61–78. Abstract
The instability of the downwelling front along the southern coast of Asia Minor is studied with a multimode quasigeostrophic model. Linear analysis shows that the most unstable wave has a length of about 100 km, The wavelength depends only very weakly on the transversal scale of the front. The wave period is larger by an order of magnitude than the e-folding time; that is, rapid local growth occurs with little propagation. The growth rate is proportional to the maximum of the speed of the downwelling westward jet. The evolution of the frontal waves can be divided into three stages. At first, the evolution is mainly due to linear instability; the second stage is characterized by closed eddy formation; and finally, isolated eddies separate from the front and penetrate into the open sea. The largest amount of available potential energy is transferred to kinetic energy and into the barotropic mode during the second, eddy-forming stage, when several dipoles develop in this mode. The formation of anticyclonic eddies is due to advection of the ridges of the unstable wave's first baroclinic mode by the barotropic dipole. The baroclinic eddies ride on the barotropic dipoles. The propagation of such dipole-rider systems is determined mainly by the evolution of the corresponding barotropic dipole. These results suggest that the warm- and salty-core eddies observed in the Eastern Mediterranean are due, at least in part, to the instability of the downwelling front along the basin's northeastern coastline. There is both qualitative and quantitative similarity between the observed and calculated eddies in their radius (35–50 km), thermal structure, and distribution along the coast.
Keppenne, Christian L., and Michael Ghil. “Adaptive filtering and prediction of noisy multivariate signals: an application to subannual variability in atmospheric angular momentum.” International Journal of Bifurcation and Chaos 3 (1993): 625–634. Abstract

Principal component analysis (PCA) in the space and time domains is applied to filter adaptively the dominant modes of subannual (SA) variability of a 12-year long multivariate time series of Northern Hemisphere atmospheric angular momentum (AAM); AAM is computed in 23 latitude bands of equal area from operational analyses of the U.S. National Meteorological Center. PCA isolates the leading empirical orthogonal functions (EOFs) of spatial dependence, while multivariate singular spectrum analysis (M-SSA) yields filtered time series that capture the dominant low-frequency modes of SA variability. The time series prefiltered by M-SSA lend themselves to prediction by the maximum entropy method (MEM). Whole-field predictions are made by combining the forecasts so obtained with the leading spatial EOFs obtained by PCA. The combination of M-SSA and MEM has predictive ability up to about a month. These methods are essentially linear but data-adaptive. They seem to perform well for short, noisy, multivariate time series, to which purely nonlinear, deterministically based methods are difficult to apply.

Keppenne, Christian L., and Michael Ghil. “Adaptive filtering and prediction of the Southern Oscillation index.” Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 97, no. D18 (1992): 20449–20454.
Vautard, Robert, Pascal Yiou, and Michael Ghil. “Singular-spectrum analysis: A toolkit for short, noisy chaotic signals.” Physica D 58, no. 1–4 (1992): 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.
Penland, Cecile, Michael Ghil, and Klaus M. Weickmann. “Adaptive filtering and maximum entropy spectra with application to changes in atmospheric angular momentum.” Journal of geophysical research 96, no. D12 (1991): 22659–22671. Abstract
The spectral resolution and statistical significance of a harmonic analysis obtained by low-order maximum entropy methods (MEM) can be improved by subjecting the data to an adaptive filter. This adaptive filter consists of projecting the data onto the leading temporal empirical orthogonal functions obtained from singular spectrum analysis (SSA). The combined SSA-MEM method is applied both to a synthetic time series and a time series of atmospheric angular momentum (AAM) data. The procedure is very effective when the background noise is white and less so when the background noise is red. The latter case obtains in the AAM data. Nevertheless, we detect reliable evidence for intraseasonal and interannual oscillations in AAM. The interannual periods include a quasi-biennial one and low-frequency one of 5 years, both related to the El Niño/Southern Oscillation. In the intraseaonal band, separate oscillations of about 48..5 and 51 days are ascertained.
Ghil, Michael, and Kingtse Mo. “Intraseasonal Oscillations in the Global Atmosphere. Part I: Northern Hemisphere and Tropics.” Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences 48, no. 5 (1991): 752–779. Abstract
We have examined systematically oscillatory modes in the Northern Hemisphere and in the tropics. The 700 mb heights were used to analyze extratropical oscillations, and the outgoing longwave radiation to study tropical oscillations in convection. All datasets were band-pass filtered to focus on the intraseasonal (IS) band of 10-120 days. Leading spatial patterns of variability were obtained by applying EOF analysis to these IS data. The leading principal components (PCs) were subjected to singular spectrum analysis (SSA). SSA is a statistical technique related to EOF analysis, but in the time domain, rather than the spatial domain. It helps identify nonlinear oscillations in short and noisy time series.In the Northern Hemisphere, there are two important modes of oscillation with periods near 48 and 23 days, respectively. The 48-day mode is the most important of the two. It has both traveling and standing components, and is dominated by a zonal wavenumber two. The 23-day mode has the spatial structure and propagation properties described by Branstator and by Kushnir.In the tropics, the 40-50 day oscillation documented by Madden and Julian, Weickmann, Lau, their colleagues, and many other authors dominates the Indian and Pacific oceans from 60°E to the date line. From 170°W to 90°W, however, a 24-28 day oscillation is equally strong. The extratropical modes are often independent of, and sometimes lead, the tropical modes.
Ghil, Michael, and Kingtse Mo. “Intraseasonal Oscillations in the Global Atmosphere. Part II: Southern Hemisphere.Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences 48 (1991): 780–792. Abstract
In Part II of this two-part article, we complete the systematic examination of oscillatory modes in the global atmosphere by studying 12 years of 500 mb geopotential heights in the Southern Hemisphere. As in Part I, for the tropics and Northern Hemisphere extratropics, the data were band-pass filtered to focus on intraseasonal (IS) phenomena, and spatial EOFs were obtained. The leading principal components were subjected to singular spectrum analysis (SSA), in order to identify nonlinear IS oscillations with high statistical confidence.In the Southern Hemisphere, the dominant mode has a period of 23 days, with spatial patterns carried by the second and third winter EOF of the IS band. It has a zonal wavenumber-four structure. The 40-day mode is second, and dominated by wavenumbers three and four, while a 16-day mode is too weak to separate its spatial behavior from the previous two. The IS dynamics in the Southern Hemisphere is more complex and dominated by shorter wavenumbers than the Northern Hemisphere. No statistically significant correlations between the Southern Hemisphere and the tropics or the Northern Hemisphere are apparent in the IS band.
Ghil, Michael, and Paola Malanotte-Rizzoli. “Data assimilation in meteorology and oceanography.” Advances in Geophysics 33 (1991): 141–266.
Ghil, Michael, and Robert Vautard. “Interdecadal oscillations and the warming trend in global temperature time series.” Nature 350, no. 6316 (1991): 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.

Ghil, Michael. “Meteorological data assimilation for oceanographers. Part I: Description and theoretical framework.” Dynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans 13, no. 3-4 (1989): 171–218.