Recurrence Analysis of Climate Sensitivity Experiments

Habs von Storch Max Planck Institut für Meteorologie, Hamburg, Federal Republic of Germany

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Francis W. Zwiers Canadian Climate Centre, Downsview, Ontario, Canada

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Abstract

A difficulty with the statistical techniques which are ordinarily used in the analysis of climate sensitivity experiments is that they do not identify the stable, or recurrent, aspects of the experimental response. Therefore, a new concept called “recurrence” is proposed. With this concept it is possible to identify the parts of the response which are likely to recur with an a priori likelihood each time a new experimental realization is obtained. A variety of statistical tests which may be used to assess an a priori level of recurrence by means of limited samples is suggested.

A recurrence analysis is performed with data simulated by the Canadian Climate Centre general circulation model forced with climatological sea surface temperatures (SSTs) and with several El Ninño SST anomalies. All considered SST anomalies, a positive and a negative doubled standard Rasmusson and Carpenter anomaly and the winter 1982/83 anomaly excite a globally significantly response in terms of height and temperature. However, only part of the significant response is also recurrent. In the cold SST anomaly experiment, recurrence is confined to a minor part of the tropics. In the warm SST anomaly runs, recurrence is found in most of the tropics and partly over the northeastern Pacific. These results indicate that equatorial Pacific SST anomalies are associated with a rather limited predictive value, even if the anomalies are very strong.

Abstract

A difficulty with the statistical techniques which are ordinarily used in the analysis of climate sensitivity experiments is that they do not identify the stable, or recurrent, aspects of the experimental response. Therefore, a new concept called “recurrence” is proposed. With this concept it is possible to identify the parts of the response which are likely to recur with an a priori likelihood each time a new experimental realization is obtained. A variety of statistical tests which may be used to assess an a priori level of recurrence by means of limited samples is suggested.

A recurrence analysis is performed with data simulated by the Canadian Climate Centre general circulation model forced with climatological sea surface temperatures (SSTs) and with several El Ninño SST anomalies. All considered SST anomalies, a positive and a negative doubled standard Rasmusson and Carpenter anomaly and the winter 1982/83 anomaly excite a globally significantly response in terms of height and temperature. However, only part of the significant response is also recurrent. In the cold SST anomaly experiment, recurrence is confined to a minor part of the tropics. In the warm SST anomaly runs, recurrence is found in most of the tropics and partly over the northeastern Pacific. These results indicate that equatorial Pacific SST anomalies are associated with a rather limited predictive value, even if the anomalies are very strong.

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