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What can we learn from climate data? : Methods for fluctuation, time/scale and phase analysis
(2006)

Since Galileo Galilei invented the first thermometer, researchers have tried to understand the complex dynamics of ocean and atmosphere by means of scientific methods. They observe nature and formulate theories about the climate system. Since some decades powerful computers are capable to simulate the past and future evolution of climate. Time series analysis tries to link the observed data to the computer models: Using statistical methods, one estimates characteristic properties of the underlying climatological processes that in turn can enter the models. The quality of an estimation is evaluated by means of error bars and significance testing. On the one hand, such a test should be capable to detect interesting features, i.e. be sensitive. On the other hand, it should be robust and sort out false positive results, i.e. be specific. This thesis mainly aims to contribute to methodological questions of time series analysis with a focus on sensitivity and specificity and to apply the investigated methods to recent climatological problems. First, the inference of long-range correlations by means of Detrended Fluctuation Analysis (DFA) is studied. It is argued that power-law scaling of the fluctuation function and thus long-memory may not be assumed a priori but have to be established. This requires to investigate the local slopes of the fluctuation function. The variability characteristic for stochastic processes is accounted for by calculating empirical confidence regions. The comparison of a long-memory with a short-memory model shows that the inference of long-range correlations from a finite amount of data by means of DFA is not specific. When aiming to infer short memory by means of DFA, a local slope larger than $\alpha=0.5$ for large scales does not necessarily imply long-memory. Also, a finite scaling of the autocorrelation function is shifted to larger scales in the fluctuation function. It turns out that long-range correlations cannot be concluded unambiguously from the DFA results for the Prague temperature data set. In the second part of the thesis, an equivalence class of nonstationary Gaussian stochastic processes is defined in the wavelet domain. These processes are characterized by means of wavelet multipliers and exhibit well defined time dependent spectral properties; they allow one to generate realizations of any nonstationary Gaussian process. The dependency of the realizations on the wavelets used for the generation is studied, bias and variance of the wavelet sample spectrum are calculated. To overcome the difficulties of multiple testing, an areawise significance test is developed and compared to the conventional pointwise test in terms of sensitivity and specificity. Applications to Climatological and Hydrological questions are presented. The thesis at hand mainly aims to contribute to methodological questions of time series analysis and to apply the investigated methods to recent climatological problems. In the last part, the coupling between El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Indian Monsoon on inter-annual time scales is studied by means of Hilbert transformation and a curvature defined phase. This method allows one to investigate the relation of two oscillating systems with respect to their phases, independently of their amplitudes. The performance of the technique is evaluated using a toy model. From the data, distinct epochs are identified, especially two intervals of phase coherence, 1886-1908 and 1964-1980, confirming earlier findings from a new point of view. A significance test of high specificity corroborates these results. Also so far unknown periods of coupling invisible to linear methods are detected. These findings suggest that the decreasing correlation during the last decades might be partly inherent to the ENSO/Monsoon system. Finally, a possible interpretation of how volcanic radiative forcing could cause the coupling is outlined.