Science in China Series D: Earth Sciences

, Volume 52, Issue 7, pp 883–906

Conditional nonlinear optimal perturbation: Applications to stability, sensitivity, and predictability



Conditional nonlinear optimal perturbation (CNOP) is a nonlinear generalization of linear singular vector (LSV) and features the largest nonlinear evolution at prediction time for the initial perturbations in a given constraint. It was proposed initially for predicting the limitation of predictability of weather or climate. Then CNOP has been applied to the studies of the problems related to predictability for weather and climate. In this paper, we focus on reviewing the recent advances of CNOP’s applications, which involves the ones of CNOP in problems of ENSO amplitude asymmetry, block onset, and the sensitivity analysis of ecosystem and ocean’s circulations, etc. Especially, CNOP has been primarily used to construct the initial perturbation fields of ensemble forecasting, and to determine the sensitive area of target observation for precipitations. These works extend CNOP’s applications to investigating the nonlinear dynamical behaviors of atmospheric or oceanic systems, even a coupled system, and studying the problem of the transition between the equilibrium states. These contributions not only attack the particular physical problems, but also show the superiority of CNOP to LSV in revealing the effect of nonlinear physical processes. Consequently, CNOP represents the optimal precursors for a weather or climate event; in predictability studies, CNOP stands for the initial error that has the largest negative effect on prediction; and in sensitivity analysis, CNOP is the most unstable (sensitive) mode. In multi-equilibrium state regime, CNOP is the initial perturbation that induces the transition between equilibriums most probably. Furthermore, CNOP has been used to construct ensemble perturbation fields in ensemble forecast studies and to identify sensitive area of target observation. CNOP theory has become more and more substantial. It is expected that CNOP also serves to improve the predictability of the realistic predictions for weather and climate events plays an increasingly important role in exploring the nonlinear dynamics of atmospheric, oceanic and coupled atmosphere-ocean system.


optimal perturbation predictability stability sensitivity 


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© Science in China Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Numerical Modeling for Atmospheric Sciences and Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, Institute of Atmospheric PhysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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