Team, Visitors, External Collaborators
Overall Objectives
Research Program
Application Domains
Highlights of the Year
New Software and Platforms
New Results
Bilateral Contracts and Grants with Industry
Partnerships and Cooperations
XML PDF e-pub
PDF e-Pub

Section: Research Program

Turbulence in insterstellar clouds and Earth observation data

The research described in this section is a collaboration effort of GEOSTAT, CNRS LEGOS (Toulouse), CNRS LAM (Marseille Laboratory for Astrophysics), MERCATOR (Toulouse), IIT Roorkee, Moroccan Royal Center for Teledetection (CRST), Moroccan Center for Science CNRST, Rabat University, University of Heidelberg. Researchers involved:

The analysis and modeling of natural phenomena, specially those observed in geophysical sciences and in astronomy, are influenced by statistical and multiscale phenomenological descriptions of turbulence; indeed these descriptions are able to explain the partition of energy within a certain range of scales. A particularly important aspect of the statistical theory of turbulence lies in the discovery that the support of the energy transfer is spatially highly non uniform, in other terms it is intermittent [70]. Because of the absence of localization of the Fourier transform, linear methods are not successful to unlock the multiscale structures and cascading properties of variables which are of primary importance as stated by the physics of the phenomena. This is the reason why new approaches, such as DFA (Detrented Fluctuation Analysis), Time-frequency analysis, variations on curvelets [66] etc. have appeared during the last decades. Recent advances in dimensionality reduction, and notably in Compressive Sensing, go beyond the Nyquist rate in sampling theory using nonlinear reconstruction, but data reduction occur at random places, independently of geometric localization of information content, which can be very useful for acquisition purposes, but of lower impact in signal analysis. We are successfully making use of a microcanonical formulation of the multifractal theory, based on predictability and reconstruction, to study the turbulent nature of interstellar molecular or atomic clouds. Another important result obtained in GEOSTAT is the effective use of multiresolution analysis associated to optimal inference along the scales of a complex system. The multiresolution analysis is performed on dimensionless quantities given by the singularity exponents which encode properly the geometrical structures associated to multiscale organization. This is applied successfully in the derivation of high resolution ocean dynamics, or the high resolution mapping of gaseous exchanges between the ocean and the atmosphere; the latter is of primary importance for a quantitative evaluation of global warming. Understanding the dynamics of complex systems is recognized as a new discipline, which makes use of theoretical and methodological foundations coming from nonlinear physics, the study of dynamical systems and many aspects of computer science. One of the challenges is related to the question of emergence in complex systems: large-scale effects measurable macroscopically from a system made of huge numbers of interactive agents [31], [61]. Some quantities related to nonlinearity, such as Lyapunov exponents, Kolmogorov-Sinai entropy etc. can be computed at least in the phase space [32]. Consequently, knowledge from acquisitions of complex systems (which include complex signals) could be obtained from information about the phase space. A result from F. Takens [67] about strange attractors in turbulence has motivated the theoretical determination of nonlinear characteristics associated to complex acquisitions. Emergence phenomena can also be traced inside complex signals themselves, by trying to localize information content geometrically. Fundamentally, in the nonlinear analysis of complex signals there are broadly two approaches: characterization by attractors (embedding and bifurcation) and time-frequency, multiscale/multiresolution approaches. In real situations, the phase space associated to the acquisition of a complex phenomenon is unknown. It is however possible to relate, inside the signal's domain, local predictability to local reconstruction [13] and to deduce relevant information associated to multiscale geophysical signals [14]. A multiscale organization is a fundamental feature of a complex system, it can be for example related to the cascading properties in turbulent systems. We make use of this kind of description when analyzing turbulent signals: intermittency is observed within the inertial range and is related to the fact that, in the case of FDT (fully developed turbulence), symmetry is restored only in a statistical sense, a fact that has consequences on the quality of any nonlinear signal representation by frames or dictionaries.

Figure 1. Visualization of the singularity exponents, computed on a edge-aware filtered Musca Herschel observation map .

The example of FDT as a standard "template" for developing general methods that apply to a vast class of complex systems and signals is of fundamental interest because, in FDT, the existence of a multiscale hierarchy h which is of multifractal nature and geometrically localized can be derived from physical considerations. This geometric hierarchy of sets is responsible for the shape of the computed singularity spectra, which in turn is related to the statistical organization of information content in a signal. It explains scale invariance, a characteristic feature of complex signals. The analogy from statistical physics comes from the fact that singularity exponents are direct generalizations of critical exponents which explain the macroscopic properties of a system around critical points, and the quantitative characterization of universality classes, which allow the definition of methods and algorithms that apply to general complex signals and systems, and not only turbulent signals: signals which belong to a same universality class share common statistical organization. During the past decades, canonical approaches permitted the development of a well-established analogy taken from thermodynamics in the analysis of complex signals: if is the free energy, 𝒯 the temperature measured in energy units, 𝒰 the internal energy per volume unit 𝒮 the entropy and β^=1/𝒯, then the scaling exponents associated to moments of intensive variables pτp corresponds to β^, 𝒰(β^) corresponds to the singularity exponents values, and 𝒮(𝒰) to the singularity spectrum [27]. The research goal is to be able to determine universality classes associated to acquired signals, independently of microscopic properties in the phase space of various complex systems, and beyond the particular case of turbulent data [53].

We show in figure 1 the result of the computation of singularity exponents on an Herschel astronomical observation map (the Musca galactic cloud) which has been edge-aware filtered using sparse L1 filtering to eliminate the cosmic infrared background (or CIB), a type of noise that can modify the singularity spectrum of a signal.