Verification of the First 11 Years of IRI’s Seasonal Climate Forecasts

Barnston, Anthony G.; Li, Shuhua; Mason, Simon J.; Dewitt, David G.; Goddard, Lisa M.; Gong, Xiaofeng

This paper examines the quality of seasonal probabilistic forecasts of near-global temperature and precipitation issued by the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) from late 1997 through 2008, using mainly a two-tiered multimodel dynamical prediction system. Skill levels, while modest when globally averaged, depend markedly on season and location and average higher in the tropics than extratropics. To first order, seasons and regions of useful skill correspond to known direct effects as well as remote teleconnections from anomalies of tropical sea surface temperature in the Pacific Ocean (e.g., ENSO related) and in other tropical basins. This result is consistent with previous skill assessments by IRI and others and suggests skill levels beneficial to informed clients making climate risk management decisions for specific applications. Skill levels for temperature are generally higher, and less seasonally and regionally dependent, than those for precipitation, partly because of correct forecasts of enhanced probabilities for above-normal temperatures associated with warming trends. However, underforecasting of above-normal temperatures suggests that the dynamical forecast system could be improved through inclusion of time-varying greenhouse gas concentrations. Skills of the objective multimodel probability forecasts, used as the primary basis for the final forecaster-modified issued forecasts, are comparable to those of the final forecasts, but their probabilistic reliability is somewhat weaker. Automated recalibration of the multimodel output should permit improvements to their reliability, allowing them to be issued as is. IRI is currently developing single-tier prediction components.

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Also Published In

Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology

More About This Work

Academic Units
International Research Institute for Climate and Society
American Meteorological Society
Published Here
April 7, 2016