California Winter Precipitation Predictability: Insights From the Anomalous 2015–2016 and 2016–2017 Seasons

Singh, Deepti; Ting, Mingfang; Scaife, Adam A.; Martin, Nicola

The unexpected dry 2015–2016 El Niño winter and extremely wet 2016–2017 La Niña winter in California challenged current seasonal prediction systems. Using the Met Office GloSea5 forecast ensemble, we study the precipitation and circulation differences between these seasons and identify processes relevant to California precipitation predictions. The ensemble mean accurately predicts the midlatitude atmospheric circulation differences between these years, indicating that these differences were predictable responses to the strong oceanic forcing differences. The substantial California precipitation differences were poorly predicted with large uncertainty. Notable differences in high-latitude circulation anomalies associated with internal variability distinguish the ensemble members that successfully simulate precipitation from those that do not. Specifically, accurate representation of the Arctic Oscillation phase differences improves the accuracy of simulated precipitation differences but these differences were not well predicted in the ensemble mean for these seasons. Improved representation of high-latitude processes such as the Arctic Oscillation and polar-midlatitude teleconnections could therefore improve California seasonal predictions.

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Also Published In

Geophysical Research Letters

More About This Work

Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Ocean and Climate Physics
Published Here
November 12, 2018