Volume 87, Number 4, August 2009
Article Number 48007
Number of page(s) 6
Section Interdisciplinary Physics and Related Areas of Science and Technology
Published online 08 September 2009
EPL, 87 (2009) 48007
DOI: 10.1209/0295-5075/87/48007

The backbone of the climate network

J. F. Donges1, 2, Y. Zou1, N. Marwan1 and J. Kurths1, 2

1   Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research - P.O. Box 60 12 03, 14412 Potsdam, Germany, EU
2   Department of Physics, Humboldt University - Newtonstr. 15, 12489 Berlin, Germany, EU

received 6 May 2009; accepted in final form 7 August 2009; published August 2009
published online 8 September 2009

We propose a method to reconstruct and analyze a complex network from data generated by a spatio-temporal dynamical system, relying on the nonlinear mutual information of time series analysis and betweenness centrality of the complex network theory. We show that this approach reveals a rich internal structure in complex climate networks constructed from reanalysis and model surface air temperature data. Our novel method uncovers peculiar wave-like structures of high-energy flow, that we relate to global surface ocean currents. This points to a major role of the oceanic surface circulation in coupling and stabilizing the global temperature field in the long-term mean (140 years for the model run and 60 years for reanalysis data). We find that these results cannot be obtained using classical linear methods of multivariate data analysis, and have ensured their robustness by intensive significance testing.

89.75.-k - Complex systems.
05.45.Tp - Time series analysis.
92.10.ah - Ocean currents; Eastern boundary currents, Western boundary currents.

© EPLA 2009