Can a Decadal Forecasting System Predict Temperature Extreme Indices?

Helen M. Hanlon School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom

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Gabriele C. Hegerl School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom

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Simon F. B. Tett School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom

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Doug M. Smith Met Office Hadley Centre, Exeter, United Kingdom

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Abstract

Daily maximum and minimum summer temperatures have increased throughout the majority of Europe over the past few decades, along with the frequency and intensity of heat waves. It is essential to learn whether this rise is expected to continue in the future for adaptation purposes. A study of predictability of European temperature indices with the Met Office Hadley Centre Decadal Prediction System (DePreSys) has revealed significant skill in predictions of 5- and 10-yr average indices of the summer mean and maximum 5-day average temperatures based on daily maximum and minimum temperatures for a large area of Europe, particularly in the Mediterranean. In contrast, the decadal forecasts of winter mean/minimum 5-day average temperature indices show poorer skill than the summer indices. Significant skill is shown for the United Kingdom in some cases but less than for the European/Mediterranean regions.

Comparison of two parallel ensembles, one initialized with observations and one without initialization, has shown that the skill largely originates from external forcing. However, there were a few cases with hints of additional skill in forecasts of decadal mean indices due to the initialization.

Model realizations of extreme indices can have large biases compared to observations that are different from those of the mean climate indices. Several methods were tested for correcting biases, as well as for testing the significance and quantifying uncertainty of the results to rule out cases of spurious skill. Bias correction of each index individually is required as biases vary across different extremes.

Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00512.s1.

Corresponding author address: Dr. H. M. Hanlon, School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh, Grant Institute, The Kings’ Buildings, West Mains Road, Edinburgh, EH93JW, United Kingdom. E-mail: h.hanlon@ed.ac.uk

Abstract

Daily maximum and minimum summer temperatures have increased throughout the majority of Europe over the past few decades, along with the frequency and intensity of heat waves. It is essential to learn whether this rise is expected to continue in the future for adaptation purposes. A study of predictability of European temperature indices with the Met Office Hadley Centre Decadal Prediction System (DePreSys) has revealed significant skill in predictions of 5- and 10-yr average indices of the summer mean and maximum 5-day average temperatures based on daily maximum and minimum temperatures for a large area of Europe, particularly in the Mediterranean. In contrast, the decadal forecasts of winter mean/minimum 5-day average temperature indices show poorer skill than the summer indices. Significant skill is shown for the United Kingdom in some cases but less than for the European/Mediterranean regions.

Comparison of two parallel ensembles, one initialized with observations and one without initialization, has shown that the skill largely originates from external forcing. However, there were a few cases with hints of additional skill in forecasts of decadal mean indices due to the initialization.

Model realizations of extreme indices can have large biases compared to observations that are different from those of the mean climate indices. Several methods were tested for correcting biases, as well as for testing the significance and quantifying uncertainty of the results to rule out cases of spurious skill. Bias correction of each index individually is required as biases vary across different extremes.

Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00512.s1.

Corresponding author address: Dr. H. M. Hanlon, School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh, Grant Institute, The Kings’ Buildings, West Mains Road, Edinburgh, EH93JW, United Kingdom. E-mail: h.hanlon@ed.ac.uk

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