, Volume 32, Issue 2-3, pp 415-428
Date: 18 Apr 2008

The retrospective prediction of ENSO from 1881 to 2000 by a hybrid coupled model: (II) Interdecadal and decadal variations in predictability

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Abstract

In this study, the retrospective predictions of ENSO (El Niño and Southern Oscillation) were performed for the period from 1881 to 2000 using a hybrid coupled model, which is an ocean general circulation model coupled to a linear statistical atmospheric model, and using a newly developed initialization scheme of SST assimilation by Ensemble Kalman Filter. With the retrospective predictions of the past 120 years, some important issues of ENSO predictability (measured by correlation and RMSE skills of NINO3 sea surface temperature anomaly index) were studied including decadal/interdecadal variations in ENSO predictability and the mechanisms responsible for these variations. Emphasis was placed on investigating the relationship between ENSO predictability and various characteristics of ENSO system such as the signal strength, the irregularity of periodicity, the noise and the nonlinearity. It is found that there are significant decadal/interdecadal variations in the prediction skills of ENSO during the past 120 years. The ENSO events were more predictable during the late nineteenth and the late twentieth centuries. The decadal/interdecadal variations of prediction skills are strongly related to the strength of sea-surface temperature anomaly (SSTA) signals, especially to the strength of SSTA signals at the frequencies of 2–4 year periods. The SSTA persistence, dominated by SSTA signals at frequencies over 4-year periods, also has a positive relationship to prediction skills. The high-frequency noise, on the other hand, has a strong inverse relationship to prediction skills, suggesting that it also probably plays an important role in ENSO predictability.