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Quasi-objective Nonlinear Principal Component Analysis and applications to the atmosphere Lu, Beiwei


NonLinear Principal Component Analysis (NLPCA) using three-hidden-layer feed-forward neural networks can produce solutions that over-fit the data and are non-unique. These problems have been dealt with by subjective methods during the network training. This study shows that these problems are intrinsic due to the three-hidden-layer architecture. A simplified two-hidden-layer feed-forward neural network that has no encoding layer and no bottleneck and output biases is proposed. This new, compact NLPCA model alleviates these problems without employing the subjective methods and is called quasi-objective. The compact NLPCA is applied to the zonal winds observed at seven pressure levels between 10 and 70 hPa in the equatorial stratosphere to represent the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation (QBO) and investigate its variability and structure. The two nonlinear principal components of the dataset offer a clear picture of the QBO. In particular, their structure shows that the QBO phase consists of a predominant 28.4-month cycle that is modulated by an 11-year cycle and a longer-period cycle. The significant difference in variability of the winds between cold and warm seasons and the tendency for a seasonal synchronization of the QBO phases are well captured. The one-dimensional NLPCA approximation of the dataset provides a better representation of the QBO than the classical principal component analysis and a better description of the asymmetry of the QBO between westerly and easterly shear zones and between their transitions. The compact NLPCA is then applied to the Arctic Oscillation (AO) index and aforementioned zonal winds to investigate the relationship of the AO with the QBO. The NLPCA of the AO index and zonal-winds dataset shows clearly that, of covariation of the two oscillations, the phase defined by the two nonlinear principal components progresses with a predominant 28.4-month periodicity, plus the 11-year and longer-period modulations. Large positive values of the AO index occur when westerlies prevail near the middle and upper levels of the equatorial stratosphere. Large negative values of the AO index arise when easterlies occupy over half the layer of the equatorial stratosphere.

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