Pairwise-rotated EOFs of Global SST


Title: Pairwise-rotated EOFs of Global SST

Journal: Journal of Climate, 30:5473-5489

Authors: CHEN X. -Y.*, J. -M. Wallace, and K. –K. Tung

Abstract: Empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analysis of global sea surface temperature yields modes in which interannual variability associated with ENSO and the lower-frequency variability associated with the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) and the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO) are confounded with one another and with the signature of global warming. The confounded EOFs exhibit overlapping centers of action with polarities of the perturbations juxtaposed such that the respective modes are mutually orthogonal in the global domain. When physical modes with different time scales appear in the same pair of EOFs, the principal component (PC) time series tend to be positively correlated in one frequency band and negatively correlated in another. Mode mixing may be a reflection of sampling variability or it may reflect the lack of spatial orthogonality of the physical modes themselves. Using sequences of pairwise orthogonal rotations of selected PCs, it is possible, without recourse to filtering, to recover a global warming mode with a bland spatial pattern and a nearly linear upward trend, along with dynamical modes, each with its own characteristic time scale, that resemble ENSO, the PDO, and the AMO. Novel elements of this analysis include a rationale for choosing the optimal angle for pairwise rotation and a simple algorithm for eliminating mode mixing between the dynamical modes and the global warming mode by transferring the linear trends from the former to the latter.