, Volume 36, Issue 3-4, pp 637-648
Date: 03 Dec 2009

An analysis of seasonal predictability in coupled model forecasts

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Abstract

In the recent decade, operational seasonal prediction systems based on initialized coupled models have been developed. An analysis of how the predictability of seasonal means in the initialized coupled predictions evolves with lead-time is presented. Because of the short lead-time, such an analysis for the temporal behavior of seasonal predictability involves a mix of both the predictability of the first and the second kind. The analysis focuses on the lead-time dependence of ensemble mean variance, and the forecast spread. Further, the analysis is for a fixed target season of December–January–February, and is for sea surface temperature, rainfall, and 200-mb height. The analysis is based on a large set of hindcasts from an initialized coupled seasonal prediction system. Various aspects of predictability of the first and the second kind are highlighted for variables with long (for example, SST), and fast (for example, atmospheric) adjustment time scale. An additional focus of the analysis is how the predictability in the initialized coupled seasonal predictions compares with estimates based on the AMIP simulations. The results indicate that differences in the set up of AMIP simulations and coupled predictions, for example, representation of air–sea interactions, and evolution of forecast spread from initial conditions do not change fundamental conclusion about the seasonal predictability. A discussion of the analysis presented herein, and its implications for the use of AMIP simulations for climate attribution, and for time-slice experiments to provide regional information, is also included.