Articles | Volume 19, issue 5
Review article
01 Oct 2012
Review article |  | 01 Oct 2012

Review article "On the origins of decadal climate variability: a network perspective"

A. A. Tsonis and K. L. Swanson

Abstract. This review is a synthesis of work spanning the last 25 yr. It is largely based on the use of climate networks to identify climate subsystems/major modes and to subsequently study how their collective behavior explains decadal variability. The central point is that a network of coupled nonlinear subsystems may at times begin to synchronize. If during synchronization the coupling between the subsystems increases, the synchronous state may, at some coupling strength threshold, be destroyed shifting climate to a new regime. This climate shift manifests itself as a change in global temperature trend. This mechanism, which is consistent with the theory of synchronized chaos, appears to be a very robust mechanism of the climate system. It is found in the instrumental records, in forced and unforced climate simulations, as well as in proxy records spanning several centuries.