101 Room for Improvement in Seasonal-to-Decadal Climate Prediction

Monday, 8 January 2018
Exhibit Hall 3 (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Sang-Ik Shin, CIRES/Univ. of Colorado Boulder and NOAA/ESRL/Physical Sciences Division, Boulder, CO; and M. Newman

The hindcast skill, for leads from a season to a decade, of the current generation of coupled

GCMs (CGCMs) is assessed and benchmarked with skill of an empirical model, a Linear Inverse

Model (LIM). Both systems produce sea surface temperature (SST) and sea surface height (SSH)

forecasts. For seasonal forecast leads, the CGCM ensemble mean hindcasts come from the North

American Multimodel Ensemble (NMME), while for interannual-to-decadal leads the CMIP5

hindcasts are analyzed. The LIM, constructed from near global (60oS-65oN) observed monthly

anomalies during the period 1961-2010, produces forecasts from 1 month to 9 years lead.

The LIM skill is comparable to or better than the CGCM ensemble mean, as well as local

univariate AR(1) process, at all timescales and all locations. Notably, the LIM is significantly

more skillful than the CGCM ensemble mean over the extratropics, especially at longer forecast

lead. For example, significant skill in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), in both PDO phase

and amplitude, up to 6-9 yr lead in LIM are well compared to relatively low insignificant skills in

CMIP5 models.

Analysis of the LIM suggests that possible error in representing the SST-SSH coupling, rather

than uncertainty in forecast initialization, is a major cause of reduced SST and SSH skill in the

CGCMs. This also suggests that reducing this model error should improve model prediction skill

of seasonal-to-decadal SST and SSH anomalies.

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