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Nonlinear Processes in Geophysics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 21, 691-703, 2014
© Author(s) 2014. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
25 Jun 2014
Testing the detectability of spatio–temporal climate transitions from paleoclimate networks with the START model
K. Rehfeld1,2,3, N. Molkenthin1,2, and J. Kurths1,2 1Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, P.O. Box 601203, 14412 Potsdam, Germany
2Department of Physics, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Newtonstr. 15, 12489 Berlin, Germany
3Alfred-Wegener-Institut Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung, Telegrafenberg A43, 14473 Potsdam, Germany
Abstract. A critical challenge in paleoclimate data analysis is the fact that the proxy data are heterogeneously distributed in space, which affects statistical methods that rely on spatial embedding of data. In the paleoclimate network approach nodes represent paleoclimate proxy time series, and links in the network are given by statistically significant similarities between them. Their location in space, proxy and archive type is coded in the node attributes.

We develop a semi-empirical model for Spatio-Temporally AutocoRrelated Time series, inspired by the interplay of different Asian Summer Monsoon (ASM) systems. We use an ensemble of transition runs of this START model to test whether and how spatio–temporal climate transitions could be detectable from (paleo)climate networks. We sample model time series both on a grid and at locations at which paleoclimate data are available to investigate the effect of the spatially heterogeneous availability of data. Node betweenness centrality, averaged over the transition region, does not respond to the transition displayed by the START model, neither in the grid-based nor in the scattered sampling arrangement. The regionally defined measures of regional node degree and cross link ratio, however, are indicative of the changes in both scenarios, although the magnitude of the changes differs according to the sampling.

We find that the START model is particularly suitable for pseudo-proxy experiments to test the technical reconstruction limits of paleoclimate data based on their location, and we conclude that (paleo)climate networks are suitable for investigating spatio–temporal transitions in the dependence structure of underlying climatic fields.

Citation: Rehfeld, K., Molkenthin, N., and Kurths, J.: Testing the detectability of spatio–temporal climate transitions from paleoclimate networks with the START model, Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 21, 691-703,, 2014.
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