CR 62:199-218 (2015)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01274

Self-organizing map analysis of widespread temperature extremes in Alaska and Canada

Elizabeth N. Cassano1,*, Justin M. Glisan2, John J. Cassano3, William J. Gutowski Jr.2, Mark W. Seefeldt1

1Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309, USA
2Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA
3Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: This paper demonstrates how self-organizing maps (SOMs) can be used to evaluate the large-scale environment, in particular the synoptic circulation associated with widespread temperature extremes. The paper provides details on how SOMs are created, how they can be used to understand extreme events, and lessons learned in applying this methodology for extremes analysis. Using a SOM can be helpful in understanding the underlying physical processes that control extreme events, and how the extremes and the processes that control them may change in time or differ across space. Examples of widespread daily temperature extremes in 4 regions: 2 each in Alaska and in northern Canada during winter (December, January, and February) for 1989-2007 are presented to illustrate the application of the methodology. For the regions studied, the size of the domain over which the synoptic circulation was defined—in particular using a smaller domain focused on particular regions—and a greater number of classes to represent the archetypical synoptic patterns for the regions, give the best relationship between synoptic circulation and extremes. The results are most robust for the Alaskan domains and less so for the Canadian domains, leading to the conclusion that further study is warranted to better understand extremes in the Canadian regions.


KEY WORDS: Self-organizing maps · Extreme events · Synoptic climatology


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Cite this article as: Cassano EN, Glisan JM, Cassano JJ, Gutowski WJ Jr, Seefeldt MW (2015) Self-organizing map analysis of widespread temperature extremes in Alaska and Canada. Clim Res 62:199-218. https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01274

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