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Dissertation | Ekaterina Fetisova

Dissertation in Mathematical statistics by Ekaterina Fetisova

Towards a flexible statistical modelling by latent factors for evaluation of simulated responses to climate forcings

Time: Tuesday 12th December 2017, 13h00–15h30

Place: in room 14, house 5, Kräftriket, Roslagsvägen 101, Stockholm

 

Abstract

In this thesis, using the principles of confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and the cause-effect concept associated with structural evuation modelling (SEM), a new  flexible statistical framework for evaluation of climate model simulations against observational data is suggested. The design of the framework also makes it possible to investigate the magnitude of the influence of different forcings on the temperature as well as to investigate a general causal latent structure of temperature data.  In terms of the questions of interest, the framework  suggested here can be viewed as a natural extension of the statistical approach of 'optimal fingerprinting', employed in many Detection and Attribution (D&A) studies. Its flexibility means that it can be applied under different circumstances concerning such aspects as the availability of simulated data, the number of forcings in question, the climate-relevant properties of these forcings, and the properties of the climate model under study,  in particular,  those concerning the reconstructions of forcings and their implementation.  It should also be added that although the framework involves the near-surface temperature as a climate variable of interest and focuses on the time period covering approximately the last millennium prior to the industrialisation period, the statistical models, included in the framework, can in principle be generalised to any period in the geological past as soon as simulations and proxy data on any continuous climate variable are available.  Within the confines of this thesis, performance of some CFA- and SEM-models is evaluated in pseudo-proxy experiments, in which the true unobservable temperature series is replaced by temperature data from a selected climate model simulation. The results indicated that depending on the climate model and the region under consideration, the underlying latent structure of temperature data can be of varying complexity, thereby rendering our statistical framework, serving as a basis for a wide range of CFA- and SEM-models, a powerful and flexible tool. Thanks to these properties, its application ultimately may contribute to an increased confidence in the conclusions about the ability of the climate model in question to simulate observed climate changes.

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