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Statistical Significance Test for Transition Matrices of Atmospheric Markov Chains

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  • 1 Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique, Paris, France
  • | 2 Climate Analysis Center, NMC/NWS/NOAA, Washington, District of Columbia
  • | 3 Climate Dynamics Center, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, and Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, University of California, Los Angeles, California
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Abstract

Low-frequency variability of large-scale atmospheric dynamics can be represented schematically by a Markov chain of multiple flow regimes. This Markov chain contains useful information for the long-range forecaster, provided that the statistical significance of the associated transition matrix can be reliably tested. Monte Carlo simulation yields a very reliable significance test for the elements of this matrix. The results of this test agree with previously used empirical formulae when each cluster of maps identified as a distinct flow regime is sufficiently large and when they all contain a comparable number of maps. Monte Carlo simulation provides a more reliable way to test the statistical significance of transitions to and from small clusters. It can determine the most likely transitions, as well as the most unlikely ones, with a prescribed level of statistical significance.

Abstract

Low-frequency variability of large-scale atmospheric dynamics can be represented schematically by a Markov chain of multiple flow regimes. This Markov chain contains useful information for the long-range forecaster, provided that the statistical significance of the associated transition matrix can be reliably tested. Monte Carlo simulation yields a very reliable significance test for the elements of this matrix. The results of this test agree with previously used empirical formulae when each cluster of maps identified as a distinct flow regime is sufficiently large and when they all contain a comparable number of maps. Monte Carlo simulation provides a more reliable way to test the statistical significance of transitions to and from small clusters. It can determine the most likely transitions, as well as the most unlikely ones, with a prescribed level of statistical significance.

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