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Predictability of the 1997 and 1998 South Asian Summer Monsoon Low-Level Winds

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  • 1 Data Assimilation Office, Goddard Laboratory for Atmospheres, Greenbelt, Maryland
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Abstract

The predictability of the 1997 and 1998 south Asian summer monsoon winds is examined from an ensemble of 10 atmospheric general circulation model simulations with prescribed sea surface temperatures (SSTs) and soil moisture. The simulations have no memory of atmospheric initial conditions for the periods of interest.

The model simulations show that the 1998 monsoon is considerably more predictable than the 1997 monsoon. During May and June of 1998 the predictability of the low-level wind anomalies is largely associated with a local response to anomalously warm Indian Ocean SSTs. Predictability increases late in the season (July and August) as a result of the strengthening of the anomalous Walker circulation and the associated development of easterly low-level wind anomalies that extend westward across India and the Arabian Sea. During these months the model is also the most skillful, with the analyses showing a similar late-season westward extension of the easterly wind anomalies.

The model shows little predictability or skill in the monthly mean low-level winds over Southeast Asia during 1997. Predictable wind anomalies do occur over the western Indian Ocean and Indonesia; however, over the Indian Ocean the predictability is artificial, because the model is responding to SST anomalies that were wind driven. The reduced predictability in the low-level winds during 1997 appears to be the result of a weaker (as compared with 1998) simulated anomalous Walker circulation, and the reduced skill is associated with pronounced intraseasonal activity that is not captured well by the model. It is remarkable that the model does produce an ensemble mean Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) response, though it is approximately in quadrature with, and much weaker than, the observed MJO anomalies during 1997.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Siegfried D. Schubert, Data Assimilation Office, Goddard Laboratory for Atmospheres, Code 910.3, Greenbelt, MD 20771. Email: schubert@dao.gsfc.nasa.gov

Abstract

The predictability of the 1997 and 1998 south Asian summer monsoon winds is examined from an ensemble of 10 atmospheric general circulation model simulations with prescribed sea surface temperatures (SSTs) and soil moisture. The simulations have no memory of atmospheric initial conditions for the periods of interest.

The model simulations show that the 1998 monsoon is considerably more predictable than the 1997 monsoon. During May and June of 1998 the predictability of the low-level wind anomalies is largely associated with a local response to anomalously warm Indian Ocean SSTs. Predictability increases late in the season (July and August) as a result of the strengthening of the anomalous Walker circulation and the associated development of easterly low-level wind anomalies that extend westward across India and the Arabian Sea. During these months the model is also the most skillful, with the analyses showing a similar late-season westward extension of the easterly wind anomalies.

The model shows little predictability or skill in the monthly mean low-level winds over Southeast Asia during 1997. Predictable wind anomalies do occur over the western Indian Ocean and Indonesia; however, over the Indian Ocean the predictability is artificial, because the model is responding to SST anomalies that were wind driven. The reduced predictability in the low-level winds during 1997 appears to be the result of a weaker (as compared with 1998) simulated anomalous Walker circulation, and the reduced skill is associated with pronounced intraseasonal activity that is not captured well by the model. It is remarkable that the model does produce an ensemble mean Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) response, though it is approximately in quadrature with, and much weaker than, the observed MJO anomalies during 1997.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Siegfried D. Schubert, Data Assimilation Office, Goddard Laboratory for Atmospheres, Code 910.3, Greenbelt, MD 20771. Email: schubert@dao.gsfc.nasa.gov

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