Pegion K. and P. D. Sardeshmukh (November 2011): Prospects for improving subseasonal predictions. Mon. Weather Rev., 139, 3648-3666. doi:10.1175/MWR-D-11-00004.1

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Extending atmospheric prediction skill beyond the predictability limit of about 10 days for daily weather rests on the hope that some time-averaged aspects of anomalous circulations remain predictable at longer forecast lead times, both because of the existence of natural low-frequency modes of atmospheric variability and coupling to the ocean with larger thermal inertia. In this paper the week-2 and week-3 forecast skill of two global coupled atmosphere–ocean models recently developed at NASA and NOAA is compared with that of much simpler linear inverse models (LIMs) based on the observed time-lag correlations of atmospheric circulation anomalies in the Northern Hemisphere and outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) anomalies in the tropics. The coupled models are found to beat the LIMs only slightly, and only if an ensemble prediction methodology is employed. To assess the potential for further skill improvement, a predictability analysis based on the relative magnitudes of forecast signal and forecast noise in the LIM framework is conducted. Estimating potential skill by such a method is argued to be superior to using the ensemble-mean and ensemble-spread information in the coupled model ensemble prediction system. The LIM-based predictability analysis yields relatively conservative estimates of the potential skill, and suggests that outside the tropics the average coupled model skill may already be close to the potential skill, although there may still be room for improvement in the tropical forecast skill.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: PSD Publications
Divisions: Physical Sciences Division
DOI: 10.1175/MWR-D-11-00004.1