The theory of parallel climate realizations as a new framework for teleconnection analysis
Scientific Reports 7, 44529 (1-11) (2017)
Teleconnections are striking features of the Earth climate system which appear as statistically correlated climate-related patterns between remote geographical regions of the globe. In a changing climate, however, the strength of teleconnections might change, and an appropriate characterization of these correlations and their change (more appropriate than detrending the time series) is lacking in the literature. Here we present a novel approach, based on the theory of snapshot attractors, corresponding in our context to studying parallel climate realizations. Imagining an ensemble of parallel Earth systems, instead of the single one observed (i.e., the real Earth), the ensemble, after some time, characterizes the appropriate probabilities of all options permitted by the climate dynamics, reflecting the internal variability of the climate. We claim that the relevant quantities for characterizing teleconnections in a changing climate are correlation coefficients taken over the temporally evolving ensemble in any time instant. As a particular example, we consider the teleconnections of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). In a numerical climate model, we demonstrate that this approach provides the only statistically correct characterization, in contrast to commonly used temporal correlations evaluated along single detrended time series. The teleconnections of the NAO are found to survive the climate change, but their strength might be time-dependent.