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Climate Research

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CR 24:3-13 (2003)  -  doi:10.3354/cr024003

Statistical separation of observed global and European climate data into natural and anthropogenic signals

Tim Staeger*, Jürgen Grieser, Christian-D. Schönwiese

Institute for Meteorology and Geophysics, J. W. Goethe University, PO Box 11 19 32, 60054 Frankfurt am Main, Germany

ABSTRACT: Observed global and European spatiotemporal related fields of surface air temperature, mean-sea-level pressure and precipitation are analyzed statistically with respect to their response to external forcing factors such as anthropogenic greenhouse gases, anthropogenic sulfate aerosol, solar variations and explosive volcanism, and known internal climate mechanisms such as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). As a first step, a principal component analysis (PCA) is applied to the observed spatiotemporal related fields to obtain spatial patterns with linear independent temporal structure. In a second step, the time series of each of the spatial patterns is subject to a stepwise regression analysis in order to separate it into signals of the external forcing factors and internal climate mechanisms as listed above as well as the residuals. Finally a back-transformation leads to the spatiotemporally related patterns of all these signals being intercompared. Two kinds of significance tests are applied to the anthropogenic signals. First, it is tested whether the anthropogenic signal is significant compared with the complete residual variance including natural variability. This test answers the question whether a significant anthropogenic climate change is visible in the observed data. As a second test the anthropogenic signal is tested with respect to the climate noise component only. This test answers the question whether the anthropogenic signal is significant among others in the observed data. Using both tests, regions can be specified where the anthropogenic influence is visible (second test) and regions where the anthropogenic influence has already significantly changed climate (first test).

KEY WORDS: Climate change · Observed climate signals · Greenhouse effect · Principal component analysis

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