Long-lead prediction of waxing and waning of the Western North Pacific (WNP)-East Asian (EA) summer monsoon (WNP-EASM) precipitation is a major challenge in seasonal time-scale climate prediction. In this study, deficiencies and potential for predicting the WNP-EASM precipitation and circulation one or two seasons ahead were examined using retrospective forecast data for the 26-year period of 1981–2006 from two operational couple models which are the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Climate Forecast System (CFS) and the Bureau of Meteorology Research Center (BMRC) Predictive Ocean–Atmosphere Model for Australia (POAMA). While both coupled models have difficulty in predicting summer mean precipitation anomalies over the region of interest, even for a 0-month lead forecast, they are capable of predicting zonal wind anomalies at 850 hPa several months ahead and, consequently, satisfactorily predict summer monsoon circulation indices for the EA region (EASMI) and for the WNP region (WNPSMI). It should be noted that the two models’ multi-model ensemble (MME) reaches 0.40 of the correlation skill for the EASMI with a January initial condition and 0.75 for the WNPSMI with a February initial condition. Further analysis indicates that prediction reliability of the EASMI is related not only to the preceding El Niño and Southern Oscillation (ENSO) but also to simultaneous local SST variability. On other hand, better prediction of the WNPSMI is accompanied by a more realistic simulation of lead–lag relationship between the index and ENSO. It should also be noted that current coupled models have difficulty in capturing the interannual variability component of the WNP-EASM system which is not correlated with typical ENSO variability. To improve the long-lead seasonal prediction of the WNP-EASM precipitation, a statistical postprocessing was developed based on the multiple linear regression method. The method utilizes the MME prediction of the EASMI and WNPSMI as predictors. It is shown that the statistical postprocessing is able to improve forecast skill for the summer mean precipitation over most of the WNP-EASM region at all forecast leads. It is noteworthy that the MME prediction, after applying statistical postprocessing, shows the best anomaly pattern correlation skill for the EASM precipitation at a 4-month lead (February initial condition) and for the WNPSM precipitation at a 5-month lead (January initial condition), indicating its potential for improving long-lead prediction of the monsoon precipitation.
Long-lead coupled climate predictionMulti-model ensembleWestern North Pacific-East Asian monsoonEast Asian summer monsoon indexWestern North Pacific summer monsoon indexClimate Forecast SystemPredictive Ocean–Atmosphere Model for AustraliaStatistical postprocessing