Experimental Tropical SST Forecast Web Pages Expanded

February 10, 2006

The NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, Physical Sciences Division (PSD) has improved an experimental forecast model of tropical sea surface temperatures (SSTs). The model is accessible via a recently updated web page that also presents details about how these forecasts are made and verified. In addition to the usual forecasts and verifications of predicted SST indices, the web page now allows web access to the cross-validated skill assessments, an explanation of how the forecasts are made, and references to further details.

The Climate Diagnostics Center, now part of PSD, has been providing experimental forecasts of tropical SSTs since 1991. Parameters for the original model were derived from ship-observed data from the Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere Data Set (COADS) for the period 1950-1985. One previous update derived the model from COADS data between 1950-1997, and NOAA/NCEP marine data from 1997-2000. The new model blends the COADS data with NOAA/NCEP surface marine data from 1991-2000. This procedure allows greater consistency with the verifications, which are the monthly-updated NOAA/NCEP surface marine data. The accuracy of predictions was rigorously tested through a "jackknifing" cross validation procedure using six five-year periods in the interval between 1970 and 2001.

A detailed explanation of the forecasts and a summary of forecast skill will aid users in interpreting these experimental forecasts. Through continual improvements in the accuracy of climate related forecasts, and by making them publicly available, PSD supports NOAA's mission goals of understanding climate variability and change to enhance society's ability to plan and respond.

Contact: Cécile Penland