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Subseasonal Forecasting with an Icosahedral, Vertically Quasi-Lagrangian Coupled Model. Part I: Model Overview and Evaluation of Systematic Errors


The atmospheric hydrostatic Flow-following Icosahedral Model (FIM), developed for medium-range weather prediction, provides a unique three-dimensional grid structure – a quasi-uniform icosahedral horizontal grid and an adaptive quasi-Lagrangian vertical coordinate. To extend the FIM framework to subseasonal timescales, an icosahedral-grid rendition (called iHYCOM) of the Hybrid Coordinate Ocean Model HYCOM was developed and coupled to FIM. By sharing a common horizontal mesh, air-sea fluxes between the two models are conserved locally and globally. Both models use similar adaptive hybrid vertical coordinates. Another unique aspect of the coupled model (referred to as FIM-iHYCOM) is the use of the Grell-Freitas scale-aware convective scheme in the atmosphere.

A multi-year retrospective study is necessary to demonstrate the potential usefulness and allow for immediate bias correction of a subseasonal prediction model. In these two articles, results are shown based on a 16-year period of hindcasts from FIM-iHYCOM, which has been providing real-time forecasts out to 4 weeks lead time for NOAA’s Subseasonal Experiment (SubX) starting July 2017. Part I provides an overview of FIM-iHYCOM and compares its systematic errors at subseasonal timescales to those of NOAA’s operational Climate Forecast System version 2 (CFSv2). Part II uses bias-corrected hindcasts to assess both deterministic and probabilistic subseasonal skill of FIM-iHYCOM.

FIM-iHYCOM has smaller biases than CFSv2 for some fields (including precipitation), and comparable biases for other fields (including sea-surface temperature). FIM-iHYCOM also has less drift in bias between weeks 1 and 4 than CFSv2. The unique grid structure and physics suite of FIM-iHYCOM is expected to add diversity to multi-model ensemble forecasts at subseasonal timescales in SubX.

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