Environmental and Ecological Statistics

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 345–367 | Cite as

A statistical test to detect vortices in the current fields of bodies of water

  • Gilles R. DucharmeEmail author
  • Céline Vincent
  • Catherine Aliaume


Vortices could play an important role in the occurrence of certain biological phenomena, such as the massive proliferation of harmful algae in bodies of water. Many measures exist to detect vortices in fluids, but little is known about the stochastic behavior of these quantities with data that contain statistical noise. Consequently they do not provide control over the probability of false positives and give little information about the risk of false negatives. Obtaining such control requires a statistical testing procedure. In this paper, we develop a test for vortices in random current fields using only the directions of the current observed at points on a regular grid. We construct a change-point test for spatially ordered angular data to detect the presence of a local vortex. A global vortex detection procedure based on this test is developed and applied to a data set from a lagoon located in the south of France. It is shown that this procedure can detect the presence of multiple vortices with good accuracy.


Angular data Change-point problem Hot-spot detection Statistical test von Mises distribution Vortex 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gilles R. Ducharme
    • 1
    Email author
  • Céline Vincent
    • 2
  • Catherine Aliaume
    • 2
  1. 1.Équipe de Probabilités et Statistique, UMR 5149Université Montpellier 2Montpellier Cedex 5France
  2. 2.Laboratoire Ecosystèmes Lagunaires, UMR 5119Université Montpellier 2Montpellier Cedex 5France

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