318 Prediction and Predictability of the Madden–Julian Oscillation in the NASA GEOS-5 Seasonal-to-Subseasonal System

Monday, 8 January 2018
Exhibit Hall 3 (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Deepthi Achuthavarier, GMAO/USRA, Greenbelt, MD; and R. D. Koster, J. Marshak, S. Schubert, and A. Molod

In this study, we examine the prediction skill and predictability of the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) in a recent version of the NASA GEOS-5 atmosphere-ocean coupled model run at ½ degree horizontal resolution. The results are based on a suite of hindcasts produced as part of the NOAA SubX project, consisting of seven ensemble members initialized every 5 days for the period 1999-2015. The atmospheric initial conditions were taken from the Modern-Era Retrospective analysis for Research and Applications, Version 2 (MERRA-2), and the ocean and the sea ice were taken from a GMAO ocean analysis. The land states were initialized from the MERRA-2 land output, which is based on observation-corrected precipitation fields.

We investigated the MJO prediction skill in terms of the bivariate correlation coefficient for the real-time multivariate MJO (RMM) indices. The correlation coefficient stays at or above 0.5 out to forecast lead times of 26-36 days, with a pronounced increase in skill for forecasts initialized from phase 3, when the MJO convective anomaly is located in the central tropical Indian Ocean. A corresponding estimate of the upper limit of the predictability is calculated by considering a single ensemble member as the truth and verifying the ensemble mean of the remaining members against that. The predictability estimates fall between 35-37 days (taken as forecast lead when the correlation reaches 0.5) and are rather insensitive to the initial MJO phase. The model shows slightly higher skill when the initial conditions contain strong MJO events compared to weak events, although the difference in skill is evident only from lead 1 to 20. Similar to other models, the RMM-index-based skill arises mostly from the circulation components of the index. The skill of the convective component of the index drops to 0.5 by day 20 as opposed to day 30 for circulation fields. The propagation of the MJO anomalies over the Maritime Continent does not appear problematic in the GEOS-5 hindcasts implying that the Maritime Continent predictability barrier may not be a major concern in this model. Finally, the MJO prediction skill in this version of GEOS-5 is superior to that of the current seasonal prediction system at the GMAO; this could be partly attributed to a slightly better representation of the MJO in the free running version of this model and partly to the improved atmospheric initialization from MERRA-2.

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