A Predictable AMO-Like Pattern in the GFDL Fully Coupled Ensemble Initialization and Decadal Forecasting System

Xiaosong Yang * NOAA/Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton, New Jersey
University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado

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Anthony Rosati * NOAA/Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton, New Jersey

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Shaoqing Zhang * NOAA/Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton, New Jersey

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Thomas L. Delworth * NOAA/Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton, New Jersey

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Rich G. Gudgel * NOAA/Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton, New Jersey

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Rong Zhang * NOAA/Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton, New Jersey

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Gabriel Vecchi * NOAA/Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton, New Jersey

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Whit Anderson * NOAA/Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton, New Jersey

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You-Soon Chang * NOAA/Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton, New Jersey
University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado

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Timothy DelSole George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, and Center for Ocean–Land–Atmosphere Studies, Calverton, Maryland

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Keith Dixon * NOAA/Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton, New Jersey

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Rym Msadek * NOAA/Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton, New Jersey
University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado

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William F. Stern * NOAA/Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton, New Jersey

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Andrew Wittenberg * NOAA/Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton, New Jersey

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Fanrong Zeng * NOAA/Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton, New Jersey

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Abstract

The decadal predictability of sea surface temperature (SST) and 2-m air temperature (T2m) in the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) decadal hindcasts, which are part of the Fifth Coupled Model Intercomparison Project experiments, has been investigated using an average predictability time (APT) analysis. Comparison of retrospective forecasts initialized using the GFDL Ensemble Coupled Data Assimilation system with uninitialized historical forcing simulations using the same model allows identification of the internal multidecadal pattern (IMP) for SST and T2m. The IMP of SST is characterized by an interhemisphere dipole, with warm anomalies centered in the North Atlantic subpolar gyre region and North Pacific subpolar gyre region, and cold anomalies centered in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current region. The IMP of T2m is characterized by a general bipolar seesaw, with warm anomalies centered in Greenland and cold anomalies centered in Antarctica. The retrospective prediction skill of the initialized system, verified against independent observational datasets, indicates that the IMP of SST may be predictable up to 4 (10) yr lead time at 95% (90%) significance level, and the IMP of T2m may be predictable up to 2 (10) yr at the 95% (90%) significance level. The initialization of multidecadal variations of northward oceanic heat transport in the North Atlantic significantly improves the predictive skill of the IMP. The dominant roles of oceanic internal dynamics in decadal prediction are further elucidated by fixed-forcing experiments in which radiative forcing is returned abruptly to 1961 values. These results point toward the possibility of meaningful decadal climate outlooks using dynamical coupled models if they are appropriately initialized from a sustained climate observing system.

Corresponding author address: Xiaosong Yang, NOAA/Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, 201 Forrestal Rd., Princeton, NJ 08540. E-mail: xiaosong.yang@noaa.gov

Abstract

The decadal predictability of sea surface temperature (SST) and 2-m air temperature (T2m) in the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) decadal hindcasts, which are part of the Fifth Coupled Model Intercomparison Project experiments, has been investigated using an average predictability time (APT) analysis. Comparison of retrospective forecasts initialized using the GFDL Ensemble Coupled Data Assimilation system with uninitialized historical forcing simulations using the same model allows identification of the internal multidecadal pattern (IMP) for SST and T2m. The IMP of SST is characterized by an interhemisphere dipole, with warm anomalies centered in the North Atlantic subpolar gyre region and North Pacific subpolar gyre region, and cold anomalies centered in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current region. The IMP of T2m is characterized by a general bipolar seesaw, with warm anomalies centered in Greenland and cold anomalies centered in Antarctica. The retrospective prediction skill of the initialized system, verified against independent observational datasets, indicates that the IMP of SST may be predictable up to 4 (10) yr lead time at 95% (90%) significance level, and the IMP of T2m may be predictable up to 2 (10) yr at the 95% (90%) significance level. The initialization of multidecadal variations of northward oceanic heat transport in the North Atlantic significantly improves the predictive skill of the IMP. The dominant roles of oceanic internal dynamics in decadal prediction are further elucidated by fixed-forcing experiments in which radiative forcing is returned abruptly to 1961 values. These results point toward the possibility of meaningful decadal climate outlooks using dynamical coupled models if they are appropriately initialized from a sustained climate observing system.

Corresponding author address: Xiaosong Yang, NOAA/Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, 201 Forrestal Rd., Princeton, NJ 08540. E-mail: xiaosong.yang@noaa.gov
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