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Journal Article

Multiscale fractal dimension analysis of a reduced order model of coupled ocean–atmosphere dynamics


Alberti,  Tommaso
External Organizations;


Donner,  Reik V.
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

Vannitsem,  Stéphane
External Organizations;

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Alberti, T., Donner, R. V., Vannitsem, S. (2021): Multiscale fractal dimension analysis of a reduced order model of coupled ocean–atmosphere dynamics. - Earth System Dynamics, 12, 3, 837-855.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_26601
Atmosphere and ocean dynamics display many complex features and are characterized by a wide variety of processes and couplings across different timescales. Here we demonstrate the application of multivariate empirical mode decomposition (MEMD) to investigate the multivariate and multiscale properties of a reduced order model of the ocean–atmosphere coupled dynamics. MEMD provides a decomposition of the original multivariate time series into a series of oscillating patterns with time-dependent amplitude and phase by exploiting the local features of the data and without any a priori assumptions on the decomposition basis. Moreover, each oscillating pattern, usually named multivariate intrinsic mode function (MIMF), represents a local source of information that can be used to explore the behavior of fractal features at different scales by defining a sort of multiscale and multivariate generalized fractal dimensions. With these two complementary approaches, we show that the ocean–atmosphere dynamics presents a rich variety of features, with different multifractal properties for the ocean and the atmosphere at different timescales. For weak ocean–atmosphere coupling, the resulting dimensions of the two model components are very different, while for strong coupling for which coupled modes develop, the scaling properties are more similar especially at longer timescales. The latter result reflects the presence of a coherent coupled dynamics. Finally, we also compare our model results with those obtained from reanalysis data demonstrating that the latter exhibit a similar qualitative behavior in terms of multiscale dimensions and the existence of a scale dependency of the statistics of the phase-space density of points for different regions, which is related to the different drivers and processes occurring at different timescales in the coupled atmosphere–ocean system. Our approach can therefore be used to diagnose the strength of coupling in real applications.