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A. Hannachi
,
D. Mitchell
,
L. Gray
, and
A. Charlton-Perez

Abstract

The polar winter stratospheric vortex is a coherent structure that undergoes different types of deformation that can be revealed by the geometric invariant moments. Three moments are used—the aspect ratio, the centroid latitude, and the area of the vortex based on stratospheric data from the 40-yr ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-40) project—to study sudden stratospheric warmings. Hierarchical clustering combined with data image visualization techniques is used as well. Using the gap statistic, three optimal clusters are obtained based on the three geometric moments considered here. The 850-K potential vorticity field, as well as the vertical profiles of polar temperature and zonal wind, provides evidence that the clusters represent, respectively, the undisturbed (U), displaced (D), and split (S) states of the polar vortex. This systematic method for identifying and characterizing the state of the polar vortex using objective methods is useful as a tool for analyzing observations and as a test for climate models to simulate the observations. The method correctly identifies all previously identified major warmings and also identifies significant minor warmings where the atmosphere is substantially disturbed but does not quite meet the criteria to qualify as a major stratospheric warming.

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A. Hannachi
,
S. Unkel
,
N. T. Trendafilov
, and
I. T. Jolliffe

Abstract

The complexity inherent in climate data makes it necessary to introduce more than one statistical tool to the researcher to gain insight into the climate system. Empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analysis is one of the most widely used methods to analyze weather/climate modes of variability and to reduce the dimensionality of the system. Simple structure rotation of EOFs can enhance interpretability of the obtained patterns but cannot provide anything more than temporal uncorrelatedness. In this paper, an alternative rotation method based on independent component analysis (ICA) is considered. The ICA is viewed here as a method of EOF rotation. Starting from an initial EOF solution rather than rotating the loadings toward simplicity, ICA seeks a rotation matrix that maximizes the independence between the components in the time domain. If the underlying climate signals have an independent forcing, one can expect to find loadings with interpretable patterns whose time coefficients have properties that go beyond simple noncorrelation observed in EOFs. The methodology is presented and an application to monthly means sea level pressure (SLP) field is discussed. Among the rotated (to independence) EOFs, the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) pattern, an Arctic Oscillation–like pattern, and a Scandinavian-like pattern have been identified. There is the suggestion that the NAO is an intrinsic mode of variability independent of the Pacific.

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Christopher A. T. Ferro
,
Abdelwaheb Hannachi
, and
David B. Stephenson

Abstract

Anthropogenic influences are expected to cause the probability distribution of weather variables to change in nontrivial ways. This study presents simple nonparametric methods for exploring and comparing differences in pairs of probability distribution functions. The methods are based on quantiles and allow changes in all parts of the probability distribution to be investigated, including the extreme tails. Adjusted quantiles are used to investigate whether changes are simply due to shifts in location (e.g., mean) and/or scale (e.g., variance). Sampling uncertainty in the quantile differences is assessed using simultaneous confidence intervals calculated using a bootstrap resampling method that takes account of serial (intraseasonal) dependency. The methods are simple enough to be used on large gridded datasets. They are demonstrated here by exploring the changes between European regional climate model simulations of daily minimum temperature and precipitation totals for winters in 1961–90 and 2071–2100. Projected changes in daily precipitation are generally found to be well described by simple increases in scale, whereas minimum temperature exhibits changes in both location and scale.

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