Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 96, Issue 3–4, pp 319–326 | Cite as

Multi-scale variability patterns in NCEP/NCAR reanalysis sea-level pressure

  • S. M. Barbosa
  • M. E. Silva
  • M. J. Fernandes
Original Paper


Atmospheric pressure varies within a wide range of scales and thus a multi-scale description of its variability is particularly appealing. In this study, a scale-by-scale analysis of the global sea-level pressure field is carried out from reanalysis data. Wavelet-based analysis of variance is applied in order to describe the variability of the pressure field in terms of patterns representing the contribution of each scale to the overall variance. Signals at the seasonal scales account for the largest fraction of sea-level pressure variance (typically more than 60%) except in the Southern Ocean, in the Equatorial Pacific and in the North Atlantic. In the Southern Ocean and over the North Atlantic, high-frequency signals contribute to a considerable fraction (30–50%) of the overall variance in sea-level pressure. In the Equatorial Pacific, large-scale variability, associated with ENSO, contributes up to 40% of the total variance.


Southern Ocean Variability Pattern Annual Signal Wavelet Variance Pressure Time Series 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work has been supported by FCT (Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia, grant SFRH/BPD/23992/2005) and by program POCTI through the Centro de Investigação em Ciências Geo-espaciais (CICGE). NCEP Reanalysis data provided by the NOAA/OAR/ESRL PSD, Boulder, Colorado, USA, from their Web site at Data analysis was performed with R software ( and with R-package waveslim from B. Whitcher.


  1. Barbosa SM, Fernandes MJ, Silva ME (2004) Nonlinear sea level trends from European tide gauge records. Ann Geophys 22:1465–1472CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barbosa SM, Silva ME, Fernandes MJ (2005) Wavelet analysis of the Lisbon and Gibraltar North Atlantic Oscillation winter indices. Int J Climatol 26:581–593CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barbosa SM, Silva ME, Fernandes MJ (2008) Changing seasonality in North Atlantic coastal sea level from the analysis of long tide gauge records. Tellus 60A:165–177Google Scholar
  4. Barnston AG, Livezey RE (1987) Classification, seasonality and persistence of low frequency atmospheric circulation patterns. Mon Weather Rev 115:1083–1126CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bjerknes J (1969) Atmospheric teleconnections from the equatorial Pacific. Mon Weather Rev 97:163–172CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bograd S, Schwing F, Mendelssohn R, Green-Jessen P (2002) On the changing seasonality over the North Pacific. Geophys Res Lett 29. DOI  10.1029/2001GL013790
  7. Bromwich DH, Fogt RL (2004) Strong trends in the skill of the ERA-40 and NCEP-NCAR reanalyses in the high and midlatitudes of the Southern Hemisphere, 1958–2001. J Climate 17:4603–4619CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Daubechies I (1988) Orthonormal bases of compactly supported wavelets. Commun Pure Appl Math 41:909–996CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gillett NP, Zwiers FW, Weaver AJ, Stott PA (2003) Detection of human influence on sea level pressure. Nature 422:292–294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hertzog A, Basdevant C, Vial F (2006) An Assessment of ECMWF and NCEP-NCAR reanalyses in the Southern Hemisphere at the end of the Presatellite Era: results from the EOLE experiment (1971–72). Mon Weather Rev 134:3367–3383CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Higuchi K, Huang J, Shabbar A (1999) A wavelet characterisation of the North Atlantic Oscillation variation and its relationship to the North Atlantic sea surface temperature. Int J Climatol 19:1119–1129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hines KM, Bromwich DH, Marshall GJ (2000) Artificial surface pressure trends in the NCEP-NCAR reanalysis over the Southern Ocean and Antarctica. J Climate 13:3940–3952CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hurrell J (1995) Decadal trends in the NAO: regional temperatures and precipitation. Science 269:676–679CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kalnay E, Kanamitsu M, Kistler R, Collins W, Deaven D, Gandin L, Iredell M, Saha S, White G, Woollen J, Zhu Y, Chelliah M, Ebisuzaki W, Higgins W, Janowiak J, Mo KC, Ropelewski C, Wang J, Leetmaa A, Reynolds R, Jenne R, Joseph D (1996) The NCEP/NCAR 40-year reanalysis project. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 77:437–471CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kistler R, Kalnay E, Collins W, Saha S, White G, Woollen J, Chelliah M, Ebisuzaki W, Kanamitsu M, Kousky V, Van den Dool H, Jenne R, Fiorino M (2001) The NCEP-NCAR 50-year reanalysis: monthly means CD-ROM and documentation. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 82:247–267CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kumar P, Foufoula-Georgiou E (1997) Wavelet analysis for geophysical applications. Rev Geophys 35:385–412CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lau KM, Weng H (1995) Climate signal detection using wavelet transform: how to make a time series sing. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 76:2391–2402CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lindsay RW, Percival DB, Rothrock DA (1996) The discrete wavelet transform and the scale analysis of the surface properties of sea ice. IEEE T Geosci Remote Sens 34:771–787CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Marshall GJ (2002) Trends in Antarctic geopotential height and temperature: a comparison between radiosonde and NCEP-NCAR reanalysis data. J Climate 15:659–674CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Marshall GJ, Harangozo SA (2000) An appraisal of NCEP/NCAR reanalysis MSLP data variability for climate studies in the South Pacific. Geophys Res Lett 27:3057–3060CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Marshall J, Kushnir Y, Battisti D, Chang P, Czaja A, Dickson R, Hurrell J, McCartney M, Saravanan R, Visbeck M (2001) North Atlantic climate variability: phenomena, impacts and mechanisms. Int J Climatol 21:1863–1891CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Percival DB (1995) On the estimation of the wavelet variance. Biometrika 82:619–631CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Percival DB (2008) Analysis of geophysical time series using discrete wavelet transforms: an overview. In: Donner R, Barbosa SM (eds) Nonlinear time series analysis in the geosciences: applications in climatology, geodynamics, and solar-terrestrial physics. Springer, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  24. Percival DB, Mojfeld H (1997) Analysis of subtidal coastal sea level fluctuations using wavelets. J Am Stat Assoc 92:868–880CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Percival DB, Walden A (2000) Wavelet methods for time series analysis. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  26. Rogers J (1997) North Atlantic storm track variability and its association to the NAO and climate variability of Northern Europe. J Climate 10:1635–1647CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Serroukh A, Walden AT, Percival DB (2000) Statistical properties and uses of the wavelet variance estimator for the scale analysis of time series. J Am Stat Assoc 95:184–196CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Singh D, Bhadram CVV, Goyal S, Mandal GS (1996) Relationship between North Pacific atmospheric pressure variations and Indian monsoon rainfall. Theor Appl Climatol 54:117–123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Sonechkin DM, Astafyeva NM, Datsenko NM, Ivachtchenko NN, Jakubiak B (1999) Multiscale oscillations of the global climate system as revealed by wavelet transform of observational data time series. Theor Appl Climatol 64:131–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Torrence C, Compo G (1998) A practical guide to wavelet analysis. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 79:61–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Von Storch H, Zwiers FW (1999) Statistical analysis in climate research. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  32. Walker GT, Bliss E (1932) World weather V. Mem R Meteorol Soc 4:53–84Google Scholar
  33. Wang C, Fiedler PC (2006) ENSO variability and the eastern tropical Pacific: a review. Prog Oceanogr 69:239–266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Yashayaeva I, Zveryaevb IM (2001) Climate of the seasonal cycle in the North Pacific and the North Atlantic oceans. Int J Climatol 21:401–417CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Zhao H, Moore GWK (2006) Timescale dependency of spatial patterns in the variability of the Northern Hemisphere winter SLP field. Geophys Res Lett 33:L13710. DOI  10.1029/2006GL026090 CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. M. Barbosa
    • 1
  • M. E. Silva
    • 1
  • M. J. Fernandes
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Matematica Aplicada, Faculdade de CienciasUniversidade do PortoPortoPortugal

Personalised recommendations