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Geophysical Monograph Series



  • nonlinear dynamics
  • climate dynamics
  • chaos
  • networks
  • teleconnections
  • climate subsystems

Index Terms

  • 1616 Global Change: Climate variability
  • 4430 Nonlinear Geophysics: Complex systems
  • 3270 Mathematical Geophysics: Time series analysis
  • 4420 Nonlinear Geophysics: Chaos



Climate Subsystems: Pacemakers of Decadal Climate Variability

A. A. Tsonis

This paper is a synthesis of work spanning the last 25 years. It is largely based on the use of climate networks to identify climate subsystems and to subsequently study how their collective behavior explains decadal variability. The central point is that a network of coupled nonlinear subsystems may at times synchronize. If during synchronization the coupling between the subsystems increases, the synchronous state may be destroyed, shifting climate to a new regime. This climate shift manifests itself as a change in global temperature trend. This mechanism, which is consistent with the theory of synchronized chaos, appears to be a very robust mechanism of the climate system. It is found in the instrumental records and in forced and unforced climate simulations, as well as in proxy records spanning several centuries.

Citation: Tsonis, A. A. (2012), Climate subsystems: Pacemakers of decadal climate variability, in Extreme Events and Natural Hazards: The Complexity Perspective, Geophys. Monogr. Ser., vol. 196, edited by A. S. Sharma et al. 191–208, AGU, Washington, D. C., doi:10.1029/2011GM001053.

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