Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 76, Issue 1–2, pp 1–12 | Cite as

Nonlinear statistical attribution and detection of anthropogenic climate change using a simulated annealing algorithm

  • A. Walter
  • C. D. Schönwiese

Summary

¶The climate system can be regarded as a dynamic nonlinear system. Thus, traditional linear statistical methods fail to model the nonlinearities of such a system. These nonlinearities render it necessary to find alternative statistical techniques. Since artificial neural network models (NNM) represent such a nonlinear statistical method their use in analyzing the climate system has been studied for a couple of years now. Most authors use the standard Backpropagation Network (BPN) for their investigations, although this specific model architecture carries a certain risk of over-/ underfitting. Here we use the so called Cauchy Machine (CM) with an implemented Fast Simulated Annealing schedule (FSA) (Szu, 1986) for the purpose of attributing and detecting anthropogenic climate change instead. Under certain conditions the CM-FSA guarantees to find the global minimum of a yet undefined cost function (Geman and Geman, 1986).

In addition to potential anthropogenic influences on climate (greenhouse gases (GHG), sulphur dioxide (SO2)) natural influences on near surface air temperature (variations of solar activity, explosive volcanism and the El Niño/Southern Oscillation phenomenon) serve as model inputs. The simulations are carried out on different spatial scales: global and area weighted averages. In addition, a multiple linear regression analysis serves as a linear reference.

It is shown that the adaptive nonlinear CM-FSA algorithm captures the dynamics of the climate system to a great extent. However, free parameters of this specific network architecture have to be optimized subjectively. The quality of the simulations obtained by the CM-FSA algorithm exceeds the results of a multiple linear regression model; the simulation quality on the global scale amounts up to 81% explained variance. Furthermore the combined anthropogenic effect corresponds to the observed increase in temperature Jones et al. (1994), updated by Jones (1999a), for the examined period 1856–1998 on all investigated scales. In accordance to recent findings of physical climate models, the CM-FSA succeeds with the detection of anthropogenic induced climate change on a high significance level. Thus, the CM-FSA algorithm can be regarded as a suitable nonlinear statistical tool for modeling and diagnosing the climate system.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag/Wien 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Walter
    • 1
    • 2
  • C. D. Schönwiese
    • 1
  1. 1.Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University, Institute for Meteorology and Geophysics, Frankfurt a.M., GermanyDE
  2. 2.Deutscher Wetterdienst, Offenbach a.M., GermanyDE

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