Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Complexity and Systems Science

pp 1-30

Date: Latest Version

Abrupt Climate Change Modeling

  • Gerrit LohmannAffiliated withAlfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research Bussestr. 24 Email author 

Definition of the Subject and Its Importance

The occurrence of abrupt change of climate at various time scales has attracted a great deal of interest for its theoretical and practical significance (Berger and Labeyrie 1987; Alley et al. 2002; Alverson and Oldfield 2000). To some extent, a definition of what constitutes an abrupt climatic change depends on the sampling interval of the data being examined (Fu et al. 1999). For the instrumental period covering approximately the last 100 years of annually or seasonally sampled data, an abrupt change in a particular climate variable will be taken to mean a statistically highly significant difference between adjacent 10-year sample means. In the paleoclimate context (i.e., on long time scales), an abrupt climate change can be in the order of decades to thousands of years. Since the climate dynamics can be often projected onto a limited number of modes or patterns of climate variability (e.g., Dima and Lohmann 2002, 2007), the definition of ab ...

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