Stratospheric circulation in seasonal forecasting models: implications for seasonal prediction
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Accurate seasonal forecasts rely on the presence of low frequency, predictable signals in the climate system which have a sufficiently well understood and significant impact on the atmospheric circulation. In the Northern European region, signals associated with seasonal scale variability such as ENSO, North Atlantic SST anomalies and the North Atlantic Oscillation have not yet proven sufficient to enable satisfactorily skilful dynamical seasonal forecasts. The winter-time circulations of the stratosphere and troposphere are highly coupled. It is therefore possible that additional seasonal forecasting skill may be gained by including a realistic stratosphere in models. In this study we assess the ability of five seasonal forecasting models to simulate the Northern Hemisphere extra-tropical winter-time stratospheric circulation. Our results show that all of the models have a polar night jet which is too weak and displaced southward compared to re-analysis data. It is shown that the models underestimate the number, magnitude and duration of periods of anomalous stratospheric circulation. Despite the poor representation of the general circulation of the stratosphere, the results indicate that there may be a detectable tropospheric response following anomalous circulation events in the stratosphere. However, the models fail to exhibit any predictability in their forecasts. These results highlight some of the deficiencies of current seasonal forecasting models with a poorly resolved stratosphere. The combination of these results with other recent studies which show a tropospheric response to stratospheric variability, demonstrates a real prospect for improving the skill of seasonal forecasts.
KeywordsStratospheric variability Stratosphere–troposphere coupling Seasonal forecasting Stratospheric sudden warmings
ACM acknowledges the support of a NERC grant for post-graduate study. SPEK was supported by a NERC grant (NE/E522575/1) and the UK Met Office. FJDR was supported by the ENSEMBLES project (GOCE-CT-2003-505539). The authors would also like to acknowledge the helpful comments of two anonymous reviewers.
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