TIGGE: Comparison of the Prediction of Northern Hemisphere Extratropical Cyclones by Different Ensemble Prediction Systems

Lizzie S. R. Froude Environmental Systems Science Centre, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom

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Abstract

The Observing System Research and Predictability Experiment (THORPEX) Interactive Grand Global Ensemble (TIGGE) is a World Weather Research Programme project. One of its main objectives is to enhance collaboration on the development of ensemble prediction between operational centers and universities by increasing the availability of ensemble prediction system (EPS) data for research. This study analyzes the prediction of Northern Hemisphere extratropical cyclones by nine different EPSs archived as part of the TIGGE project for the 6-month time period of 1 February 2008–31 July 2008, which included a sample of 774 cyclones. An objective feature tracking method has been used to identify and track the cyclones along the forecast trajectories. Forecast verification statistics have then been produced [using the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) operational analysis as the truth] for cyclone position, intensity, and propagation speed, showing large differences between the different EPSs. The results show that the ECMWF ensemble mean and control have the highest level of skill for all cyclone properties. The Japanese Meteorological Administration (JMA), the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), the Met Office (UKMO), and the Canadian Meteorological Centre (CMC) have 1 day less skill for the position of cyclones throughout the forecast range. The relative performance of the different EPSs remains the same for cyclone intensity except for NCEP, which has larger errors than for position. NCEP, the Centro de Previsão de Tempo e Estudos Climáticos (CPTEC), and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) all have faster intensity error growth in the earlier part of the forecast. They are also very underdispersive and significantly underpredict intensities, perhaps due to the comparatively low spatial resolutions of these EPSs not being able to accurately model the tilted structure essential to cyclone growth and decay. There is very little difference between the levels of skill of the ensemble mean and control for cyclone position, but the ensemble mean provides an advantage over the control for all EPSs except CPTEC in cyclone intensity and there is an advantage for propagation speed for all EPSs. ECMWF and JMA have an excellent spread–skill relationship for cyclone position. The EPSs are all much more underdispersive for cyclone intensity and propagation speed than for position, with ECMWF and CMC performing best for intensity and CMC performing best for propagation speed. ECMWF is the only EPS to consistently overpredict cyclone intensity, although the bias is small. BoM, NCEP, UKMO, and CPTEC significantly underpredict intensity and, interestingly, all the EPSs underpredict the propagation speed, that is, the cyclones move too slowly on average in all EPSs.

Corresponding author address: Lizzie S. R. Froude, Environmental Systems Science Centre, University of Reading, Harry Pitt Bldg., Whiteknights, P.O. Box 238, Reading RG6 6AL, United Kingdom. Email: lsrf@mail.nerc-essc.ac.uk

Abstract

The Observing System Research and Predictability Experiment (THORPEX) Interactive Grand Global Ensemble (TIGGE) is a World Weather Research Programme project. One of its main objectives is to enhance collaboration on the development of ensemble prediction between operational centers and universities by increasing the availability of ensemble prediction system (EPS) data for research. This study analyzes the prediction of Northern Hemisphere extratropical cyclones by nine different EPSs archived as part of the TIGGE project for the 6-month time period of 1 February 2008–31 July 2008, which included a sample of 774 cyclones. An objective feature tracking method has been used to identify and track the cyclones along the forecast trajectories. Forecast verification statistics have then been produced [using the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) operational analysis as the truth] for cyclone position, intensity, and propagation speed, showing large differences between the different EPSs. The results show that the ECMWF ensemble mean and control have the highest level of skill for all cyclone properties. The Japanese Meteorological Administration (JMA), the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), the Met Office (UKMO), and the Canadian Meteorological Centre (CMC) have 1 day less skill for the position of cyclones throughout the forecast range. The relative performance of the different EPSs remains the same for cyclone intensity except for NCEP, which has larger errors than for position. NCEP, the Centro de Previsão de Tempo e Estudos Climáticos (CPTEC), and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) all have faster intensity error growth in the earlier part of the forecast. They are also very underdispersive and significantly underpredict intensities, perhaps due to the comparatively low spatial resolutions of these EPSs not being able to accurately model the tilted structure essential to cyclone growth and decay. There is very little difference between the levels of skill of the ensemble mean and control for cyclone position, but the ensemble mean provides an advantage over the control for all EPSs except CPTEC in cyclone intensity and there is an advantage for propagation speed for all EPSs. ECMWF and JMA have an excellent spread–skill relationship for cyclone position. The EPSs are all much more underdispersive for cyclone intensity and propagation speed than for position, with ECMWF and CMC performing best for intensity and CMC performing best for propagation speed. ECMWF is the only EPS to consistently overpredict cyclone intensity, although the bias is small. BoM, NCEP, UKMO, and CPTEC significantly underpredict intensity and, interestingly, all the EPSs underpredict the propagation speed, that is, the cyclones move too slowly on average in all EPSs.

Corresponding author address: Lizzie S. R. Froude, Environmental Systems Science Centre, University of Reading, Harry Pitt Bldg., Whiteknights, P.O. Box 238, Reading RG6 6AL, United Kingdom. Email: lsrf@mail.nerc-essc.ac.uk

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