ECONS - WGL PAKT Initiative - Evolving Complex Networks
Regional resource management under environmental and demographic change

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Europhysics Letters (EPL), 87, 48007 (2009) DOI:10.1209/0295-5075/87/48007

The backbone of the climate network

J. F. Donges, Y. Zou, N. Marwan, J. Kurths

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 ma jor 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.