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Modeling regional impacts of climate teleconnections using functional data analysis

Bonner, S.J., Newlands, N.K., Heckman, N.E. (2014). Modeling regional impacts of climate teleconnections using functional data analysis, 21(1), 1-26.


Teleconnections are quasi-periodic changes in atmospheric circulation that oscillate over long periods of time and impact climate over large regions. These patterns are often linked to long-term variations in climate and extreme weather events and may explain regional differences in climate vulnerability. We apply methods of functional data analysis to examine regional impacts of teleconnections on climate in British Columbia, Canada, between 1951 and 2000. We focus on monthly mean temperature as an overall determinant of crop growth and apply functional principal components analysis (FPCA) to study variations in the impacts of four major teleconnection indices affecting the Northern Hemisphere (the Southern Oscillation Index, the Pacific North American (PNA), Pacific Decadal Oscillation, and the North American Oscillation indices). Two challenges we consider are that the impacts of teleconnections cannot be observed directly and that fine scale data required to study regional variations may come from different sources with highly varied records. We first fit thin-plate regression splines to the raw data to construct complete series of pseudo-data at fixed grid points. Regression models incorporating Bayesian P-splines were then fit to the pseudo-data to estimate the impacts of the four teleconnections over time. Finally, FPCA was then applied to study regional variations in these effects. Our analysis identified strong variations in mean temperature associated with the PNA. The resulting spatial patterns also reveal areas of increased/decreased temperature variability that may have higher climate risk or be suitable for expansion of agricultural activity. © 2013 Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, as represented by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada 2013.

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