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Decadal Climate Prediction: An Update from the Trenches

Meehl, Gerald A.; Goddard, Lisa M.; Boer, George; Burgman, Robert; Branstator, Grant; Cassou, Christophe; Corti, Susanna; Danabasoglu, Gokhan; Doblas-Reyes, Francisco; Hawkins, Ed; Karspeck, Alicia; Kimoto, Masahide; Kumar, Arun; Matei, Daniela; Mignot, Juliette; Msadek, Rym; Navarra, Antonio; Pohlmann, Holger; Rienecker, Michele; Rosati, Tony; Schneider, Edwin; Smith, Doug; Sutton, Rowan; Teng, Haiyan; van Oldenborgh, Geert Jan; Vecchi, Gabriel; Yeager, Stephen

This paper provides an update on research in the relatively new and fast-moving field of decadal climate prediction, and addresses the use of decadal climate predictions not only for potential users of such information but also for improving our understanding of processes in the climate system. External forcing influences the predictions throughout, but their contributions to predictive skill become dominant after most of the improved skill from initialization with observations vanishes after about 6–9 years. Recent multimodel results suggest that there is relatively more decadal predictive skill in the North Atlantic, western Pacific, and Indian Oceans than in other regions of the world oceans. Aspects of decadal variability of SSTs, like the mid-1970s shift in the Pacific, the mid-1990s shift in the northern North Atlantic and western Pacific, and the early-2000s hiatus, are better represented in initialized hindcasts compared to uninitialized simulations. There is evidence of higher skill in initialized multimodel ensemble decadal hindcasts than in single model results, with multimodel initialized predictions for near-term climate showing somewhat less global warming than uninitialized simulations. Some decadal hindcasts have shown statistically reliable predictions of surface temperature over various land and ocean regions for lead times of up to 6–9 years, but this needs to be investigated in a wider set of models. As in the early days of El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) prediction, improvements to models will reduce the need for bias adjustment, and increase the reliability, and thus usefulness, of decadal climate predictions in the future.

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Also Published In

Title
Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1175/BAMS-D-12-00241.1

More About This Work

Academic Units
International Research Institute for Climate and Society
Publisher
American Meteorological Society
Published Here
March 31, 2016
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