Study measures the pulse of planet Earth to unearth climate change secrets

An international research team led by Professor Heiko Balzter from the Department of Geography has for the first time harnessed technology typically used to diagnose heart disease in order to measure planet Earth’s pulse – and has uncovered hidden patterns of climate change often overlooked by other types of measurement.

The statistical method is called ‘multi-scale entropy analysis’ and has not been used to study climate data before. It works by pattern matching and searches data for repetitive small chunks - or pattern templates - that appear over and over again to measure entropy levels.

The study reveals that from 1961 to 2014, at time-scales from 12 to 70 months the air temperatures in Europe show less regularity compared to 1851-1960.

This may be a sign that the regional temperatures are now influenced by more complex forces at work – and the researchers suggest that it could be possible that climate system feedbacks express themselves in altered temporal scales of European temperatures. The study also provides a map visualisation of the entropy results for the first time, showing the time scales which have changed most.

The study, entitled ‘Multi-scale entropy analysis as a method for time-series analysis of climate data’, is published in the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute journal Climate.