Seasonal forecasts of North Atlantic tropical cyclone activity in the North American Multi-Model Ensemble
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The North American Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME)-Phase II models are evaluated in terms of their retrospective seasonal forecast skill of the North Atlantic (NA) tropical cyclone (TC) activity, with a focus on TC frequency. The TC identification and tracking algorithm is modified to accommodate model data at daily resolution. It is also applied to three reanalysis products at the spatial and temporal resolution of the NMME-Phase II ensemble to allow for a more objective estimation of forecast skill. When used with the reanalysis data, the TC tracking generates realistic climatological distributions of the NA TC formation and tracks, and represents the interannual variability of the NA TC frequency quite well. Forecasts with the multi-model ensemble (MME) when initialized in April and later tend to have skill in predicting the NA seasonal TC counts (and TC days). At longer leads, the skill is low or marginal, although one of the models produces skillful forecasts when initialized as early as January and February. At short lead times, while demonstrating the highest skill levels the MME also tends to significantly outperform the individual models and attain skill comparable to the reanalysis. In addition, the short-lead MME forecasts are quite reliable. At regional scales, the skill is rather limited and mostly present in the western tropical NA and the Caribbean Sea. It is found that the overall MME forecast skill is limited by poor representation of the low-frequency variability in the predicted TC frequency, and large fluctuations in skill on decadal time scales. Addressing these deficiencies is thought to increase the value of the NMME ensemble in providing operational guidance.
KeywordsSeasonal forecasts North Atlantic Tropical cyclone frequency North American Multi-Model Ensemble
Funding of COLA for this study is provided by Grants from NSF (AGS-1338427), NOAA (NA09OAR4310058 and NA14OAR4310160), NASA (NNX14AM19G), and the ONR Grant (N00014-15-1-2745). We acknowledge NOAA MAPP, NSF, NASA, and the DOE that support the NMME-Phase II system, and we thank the climate modeling groups (Environment Canada, NASA, NCAR, NOAA/GFDL, NOAA/NCEP, and University of Miami) for producing and making available their model output. NOAA/NCEP, NOAA/CTB, and NOAA/CPO jointly provided coordinating support and led development of the NMME-Phase II system. We also gratefully acknowledge computing resources on the Yellowstone supercomputer provided by the National Center for Atmospheric Research.
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