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BY-NC-ND 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access March 4, 2017

Research Article. On memory, dimension, and atmospheric teleconnections

  • Terence. J. O’Kane , Didier P. Monselesan , James S. Risbey , Illia Horenko and Christian L. E. Franzke


Using reanalysed atmospheric data and applying a data-driven multiscale approximation to non-stationary dynamical processes, we undertake a systematic examination of the role of memory and dimensionality in defining the quasi-stationary states of the troposphere over the recent decades. We focus on the role of teleconnections characterised by either zonally-oriented wave trains or meridional dipolar structures. We consider the impact of various strategies for dimension reduction based on principal component analysis, diagonalization and truncation.We include the impact of memory by consideration of Bernoulli, Markovian and non-Markovian processes. We a priori explicitly separate barotropic and baroclinic processes and then implement a comprehensive sensitivity analysis to the number and type of retained modes. Our results show the importance of explicitly mitigating the deleterious impacts of signal degradation through ill-conditioning and under sampling in preference to simple strategies based on thresholds in terms of explained variance. In both hemispheres, the results obtained for the dominant tropospheric modes depend critically on the extent to which the higher order modes are retained, the number of free model parameters to be fitted, and whether memory effects are taken into account. Our study identifies the primary role of the circumglobal teleconnection pattern in both hemispheres for Bernoulli and Markov processes, and the transient nature and zonal structure of the Southern Hemisphere patterns in relation to their Northern Hemisphere counterparts. For both hemispheres, overfitted models yield structures consistent with the major teleconnection modes (NAO, PNA and SAM), which give way to zonally oriented wavetrains when either memory effects are ignored or where the dimension is reduced via diagonalising. Where baroclinic processes are emphasised, circumpolar wavetrains are manifest.


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Received: 2016-10-11
Accepted: 2017-2-10
Published Online: 2017-3-4
Published in Print: 2017-1-1

© 2017

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License.

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