29 Jul 2022
29 Jul 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESD.

Classification of synoptic circulation patterns with a two-stage clustering algorithm using the structural similarity index metric (SSIM)

Kristina Winderlich, Clementine Dalelane, and Andreas Walter Kristina Winderlich et al.
  • Climate and Environment Consultancy Department, Deutscher Wetterdienst (German Meteorological Service), Offenbach am Main, 63067, Germany

Abstract. We develop a new classification method for synoptic circulation patterns with the aim to extend the evaluation routine for climate simulations. This classification is applicable for any region of the globe of any size given the reference data. Its unique novelty is the use of the structural similarity index metric (SSIM) instead of traditional distance metrics for cluster building. This classification method combines two classical clustering algorithms used iteratively, hierarchical agglomerative clustering (HAC) and k-medoids, with the only one pre-set parameter – the threshold on the similarity between two synoptic patterns expressed as the structural similarity index measure SSIM. This threshold is set by the user to imitate the human perception of the similarity between two images (similar structure, luminance and contrast) and the number of final classes is defined automatically.

We apply the SSIM-based classification method on the geopotential height at the pressure-level of 500 hPa from the reanalysis data ERA-Interim 1979–2018 and demonstrate that the built classes are 1) consistent to the changes in the input parameter, 2) well separated, 3) spatially and temporally stable, and 4) physically meaningful.

We use the synoptic circulation classes obtained with the new classification method for evaluating CMIP6 historical climate simulations and an alternative reanalysis (for comparison purposes). The output fields of CMIP6 models (and of the alternative reanalysis) are assigned to the classes and the quality index is computed. We rank the CMIP6 simulations according to this quality index.

Kristina Winderlich et al.

Status: open (until 09 Sep 2022)

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Kristina Winderlich et al.

Kristina Winderlich et al.


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Short summary
This paper presents a new classification method for synoptic circulation patterns and its application on ERA-Interim reanalysis data. The output fields of the CMIP6 models are assigned to the reanalysis-derived classes and a new quality index, built on the statistics between each model and the reference, is introduced to quantify the “quality” of the respective model. CMIP6 models are ranked according to the new quality score.