Teleconnections describe the idea that a perturbation to one region of the globe can cause effects far away from the initial perturbation. A classic example is the El Nino Southern Oscillation, an event that occurs every 2-7 years that, among other things, results in warmer sea surface temperatures in the central or eastern Pacific. (See figure below.)
What are they, and why work on them?
Because their effects are so far away and are the result of complicated Earth system interactions, teleconnections are difficult to understand. How can we know which responses are due to specific teleconnections, and which are due to something else? How can we identify new teleconnections? How can we quantify things about teleconnections, such as how strong they are and how long the signals take to show up? These are crucial questions in the study of climate dynamics but often have elusive answers.
What do we do?
Much of the knowledge gained about teleconnections over the years has been hard-won and pieced together. Our aims are to construct systematic ways of agnostically identifying teleconnections and the timescales on which they operate. We are developing several new methodologies that can at least replicate the results of past methods and provide additional sensitivity and other advantageous features. Our methods include system identification, transfer functions, network science, and spread spectrum communication.