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Uncertainty in regional temperatures inferred from sparse global observations: Application to a probabilistic classification of El Niño

Ilyas, M; Brierley, CM; Guillas, S; (2017) Uncertainty in regional temperatures inferred from sparse global observations: Application to a probabilistic classification of El Niño. Geophysical Research Letters , 44 (17) pp. 9068-9074. 10.1002/2017GL074596. Green open access

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Abstract

Instrumental records showing increases in surface temperature are some of the robust and iconic evidence of climate change. But how much should we trust regional temperature estimates interpolated from sparse observations? Here we quantify the uncertainty in the instrumental record by applying multiresolution lattice kriging, a recently developed interpolation technique that leverages the multiple spatial scales of temperature anomalies. The probability of monthly anomalies across the globe is represented by an ensemble, based on HadCRUT4 and accounting for observational and coverage uncertainties. To demonstrate the potential of these new data, we investigate the area-averaged temperature anomalies over the Niño 3.4 region in the equatorial Pacific. Having developed a definition of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) able to cope with probability distribution functions, we classify the ENSO state for each year since 1851. We find that for many years it is ambiguous as to whether there was an El Niño or not from the Niño 3.4 region alone. These years are mainly before 1920, but also just after World War II.

Type: Article
Title: Uncertainty in regional temperatures inferred from sparse global observations: Application to a probabilistic classification of El Niño
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1002/2017GL074596
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1002/2017GL074596
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Keywords: Interpolation; uncertainties; temperature; ENSO
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Statistical Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Geography
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10022744
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