Articles | Volume 6, issue 1
14 Jun 2011
 | 14 Jun 2011

Homogenising time series: beliefs, dogmas and facts

P. Domonkos

Abstract. In the recent decades various homogenisation methods have been developed, but the real effects of their application on time series are still not known sufficiently. The ongoing COST action HOME (COST ES0601) is devoted to reveal the real impacts of homogenisation methods more detailed and with higher confidence than earlier. As a part of the COST activity, a benchmark dataset was built whose characteristics approach well the characteristics of real networks of observed time series. This dataset offers much better opportunity than ever before to test the wide variety of homogenisation methods, and analyse the real effects of selected theoretical recommendations.

Empirical results show that real observed time series usually include several inhomogeneities of different sizes. Small inhomogeneities often have similar statistical characteristics than natural changes caused by climatic variability, thus the pure application of the classic theory that change-points of observed time series can be found and corrected one-by-one is impossible. However, after homogenisation the linear trends, seasonal changes and long-term fluctuations of time series are usually much closer to the reality than in raw time series. Some problems around detecting multiple structures of inhomogeneities, as well as that of time series comparisons within homogenisation procedures are discussed briefly in the study.