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The Role of Air–Sea Coupling in Seasonal Prediction of Asia–Pacific Summer Monsoon Rainfall

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  • 1 Center for Ocean–Land–Atmosphere Studies, Institute of Global Environment and Society, Calverton, Maryland
  • 2 Center for Ocean–Land–Atmosphere Studies, Institute of Global Environment and Society, Calverton, Maryland, and Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Earth Sciences, College of Science, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia
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Abstract

This study examines the role of the air–sea coupled process in the seasonal predictability of Asia–Pacific summer monsoon rainfall by comparing seasonal predictions from two carefully designed model experiments: tier 1 (fully coupled model) and tier 2 (AGCM with prescribed SSTs). In these experiments, an identical AGCM is used in both tier 1 and tier 2 predictions; the daily mean SSTs from tier 1 coupled predictions are prescribed as a boundary condition in tier 2 predictions. Both predictions start in April from 1982 to 2009, with four ensemble members for each case. The model used is the Climate Forecast System, version 2 (CFSv2), the current operational climate prediction model for seasonal-to-interannual prediction at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). Comparisons indicate that tier 2 predictions produce not only higher rainfall biases but also unrealistically high rainfall variations in the tropical western North Pacific (TWNP) and some coastal regions as well. While the prediction skill in terms of anomaly correlations does not present a significant difference between the two types of predictions, the root-mean-square errors (RMSEs) are clearly larger over the above-mentioned regions in the tier 2 prediction. The reduced RMSE skills in the tier 2 predictions are due to the lack of a coupling process in AGCM-alone simulations, which, particularly, results in an unrealistic SST–rainfall relationship over the TWNP region. It is suggested that for a prediction of summer monsoon rainfall over the Asia–Pacific region, it is necessary to use a coupled atmosphere–ocean (tier 1) prediction system.

Corresponding author address: Jieshun Zhu, COLA, IGES, 4041 Powder Mill Road, Suite 302, Calverton, MD 20705-3106. E-mail: jieshun@cola.iges.org

Abstract

This study examines the role of the air–sea coupled process in the seasonal predictability of Asia–Pacific summer monsoon rainfall by comparing seasonal predictions from two carefully designed model experiments: tier 1 (fully coupled model) and tier 2 (AGCM with prescribed SSTs). In these experiments, an identical AGCM is used in both tier 1 and tier 2 predictions; the daily mean SSTs from tier 1 coupled predictions are prescribed as a boundary condition in tier 2 predictions. Both predictions start in April from 1982 to 2009, with four ensemble members for each case. The model used is the Climate Forecast System, version 2 (CFSv2), the current operational climate prediction model for seasonal-to-interannual prediction at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). Comparisons indicate that tier 2 predictions produce not only higher rainfall biases but also unrealistically high rainfall variations in the tropical western North Pacific (TWNP) and some coastal regions as well. While the prediction skill in terms of anomaly correlations does not present a significant difference between the two types of predictions, the root-mean-square errors (RMSEs) are clearly larger over the above-mentioned regions in the tier 2 prediction. The reduced RMSE skills in the tier 2 predictions are due to the lack of a coupling process in AGCM-alone simulations, which, particularly, results in an unrealistic SST–rainfall relationship over the TWNP region. It is suggested that for a prediction of summer monsoon rainfall over the Asia–Pacific region, it is necessary to use a coupled atmosphere–ocean (tier 1) prediction system.

Corresponding author address: Jieshun Zhu, COLA, IGES, 4041 Powder Mill Road, Suite 302, Calverton, MD 20705-3106. E-mail: jieshun@cola.iges.org
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