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Quan X.-W., M. P. Hoerling, B. Lyon, A. Kumar, M. A. Bell, M. K. Tippett and H. Wang (July 2012): Prospects for Dynamical Prediction of Meteorological Drought. J. Appl. Meteorol. Clim., 51 (7), 1238-1252. doi:10.1175/JAMC-D-11-0194.1

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The prospects for U.S. seasonal drought prediction are assessed by diagnosing simulation and hindcast skill of drought indicators during 1982–2008. The 6-month standardized precipitation index is used as the primary drought indicator. The skill of unconditioned, persistence forecasts serves as the baseline against which the performance of dynamical methods is evaluated. Predictions conditioned on the state of global sea surface temperatures (SST) are assessed using atmospheric climate simulations conducted in which observed SSTs are specified. Predictions conditioned on the initial states of atmosphere, land surfaces, and oceans are next analyzed using coupled climate-model experiments. The persistence of the drought indicator yields considerable seasonal skill, with a region’s annual cycle of precipitation driving a strong seasonality in baseline skill. The unconditioned forecast skill for drought is greatest during a region’s climatological dry season and is least during a wet season. Dynamical models forced by observed global SSTs yield increased skill relative to this baseline, with improvements realized during the cold season over regions where precipitation is sensitive to El Niño–Southern Oscillation. Fully coupled initialized model hindcasts yield little additional skill relative to the uninitialized SST-forced simulations. In particular, neither of these dynamical seasonal forecasts materially increases summer skill for the drought indicator over the Great Plains, a consequence of small SST sensitivity of that region’s summer rainfall and the small impact of antecedent soil moisture conditions, on average, upon the summer rainfall. The fully initialized predictions for monthly forecasts appreciably improve on the seasonal skill, however, especially during winter and spring over the northern Great Plains.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: PSD Publications
Divisions: Physical Sciences Division
DOI: 10.1175/JAMC-D-11-0194.1