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Publication Date
1 November 2017

Advancing a Model-Validated Statistical Method for Decomposing the Key Oceanic Drivers of Regional Climate: Focus on Northern and Tropical African Climate Variability



This study advances the practicality and stability of the traditional multivariate statistical method, Generalized Equilibrium Feedback Assessment (full-GEFA), for decomposing the key oceanic drivers of regional atmospheric variability, especially when available data records are short. An advanced stepwise-GEFA methodology is introduced, in which unimportant forcings within the forcing matrix are eliminated through stepwise selection. Method validation of stepwise-GEFA is performed using the CESM, with a focused application to northern and tropical Africa (NTA). First, a statistical assessment of the atmospheric response to each primary oceanic forcing is carried out by applying stepwise-GEFA to a fully coupled control run. Then, a dynamical assessment of the atmospheric response to individual oceanic forcings is performed through ensemble experiments by imposing sea surface temperature anomalies over focal ocean basins. Finally, to quantify the reliability of stepwise-GEFA, the statistical assessment is evaluated against the dynamical assessment in terms of four metrics: the percentage of grid cells with consistent response sign, spatial correlation of atmospheric response patterns, area-averaged seasonal cycle of response magnitude, and consistency in associated mechanisms between assessments. In CESM, tropical modes, namely El Niño Southern Oscillation, tropical Indian Basin, tropical Indian Dipole, and tropical Atlantic Niño modes, are the dominant oceanic controls of NTA climate. In complementary studies, stepwise-GEFA is validated in terms of isolating terrestrial forcings on the atmosphere, and observed oceanic and terrestrial drivers of NTA climate are extracted to establish an observational benchmark for subsequent coupled model evaluation and development of process-based weights for regional climate projections.
“Advancing A Model-Validated Statistical Method For Decomposing The Key Oceanic Drivers Of Regional Climate: Focus On Northern And Tropical African Climate Variability”. 2017. doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-17-0219.1 .
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