Investigation of past and present climate dynamics and its stability by means of a spatio-temporal analysis of climate data using complex networks
April 2014 until January 2015
47.200 € funded by DFG - Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft:
Norbert Marwan
PIK number / OEH

The study of the stability of the climate system and the impacts of the changes it undergoes requires both data analysis and modelling approaches. Recent findings of particularly sensitive sub-systems in the climate system (tipping elements), have risen concerns that common climate models still underestimate climate change. Focusing on the data analysis part, this project aims to investigate the role and connectivity of tipping elements with respect to global and regional climate and environmental change, using ideas from complex network theory for a spatio-temporal, multi-variate analysis of climate data. This approach will be critically reviewed and tested. For this purpose, new methods for inferring indirect couplings, extreme events, spatial predominant directions, and boundary effects will be developed and implemented as well as applied to the monsoon regions in South America and Asia. This includes a novel anisotropy measure which is able to quantify directions along which extreme events synchronize locally. Spatio-temporal interactions between and within these specific tipping elements will investigated in order to understand the stability or multi-stability of the considered monsoon regions due to environmental changes or crossing of tipping points. The project will, therefore, significantly contribute to the climate change studies (better understanding tipping elements) and the methodological development (new approaches for spatio-temporal analysis), which could eventually also be used to improve climate models.