Subseasonal prediction performance for austral summer South American rainfall

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  • 1 National Centre for Atmospheric Science and Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom
  • 2 National Centre for Atmospheric Science and Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom
  • 3 National Centre for Atmospheric Science and Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom
  • 4 Centre for Weather Forecast and Climate Studies, National Institute for Space Research, Cachoeira Paulista, SP, Brazil
  • 5 National Centre for Atmospheric Science and Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom
  • 6 National Centre for Atmospheric Science and Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom
  • 7 Centre for Weather Forecast and Climate Studies, National Institute for Space Research, Cachoeira Paulista, SP, Brazil
  • 8 Centre for Weather Forecast and Climate Studies, National Institute for Space Research, Cachoeira Paulista, SP, Brazil
  • 9 Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom
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Abstract

Skilful and reliable predictions of week-to-week rainfall variations in South America, two to three weeks ahead, are essential to protect lives, livelihoods and ecosystems. We evaluate forecast performance for weekly rainfall in extended austral summer (November–March) in four contemporary subseasonal systems, including a new Brazilian model, at 1–5 week leads for 1999–2010. We measure performance by the correlation coefficient (in time) between predicted and observed rainfall; we measure skill by the Brier Skill Score for rainfall terciles against a climatological reference forecast. We assess unconditional performance (i.e., regardless of initial condition) and conditional performance based on the initial phase of the Madden–Julian Oscillation (MJO) and the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO). All models display substantial mean rainfall biases, including dry biases in Amazonia and wet biases near the Andes, which are established by Week 1 and vary little thereafter. Unconditional performance extends to Week 2 in all regions except for Amazonia and the Andes, but to Week 3 only over northern, northeastern and southeastern South America. Skill for upper- and lower-tercile rainfall extends only to Week 1. Conditional performance is not systematically or significantly higher than unconditional performance; ENSO and MJO events provide limited “windows of opportunity” for improved S2S predictions that are region- and model-dependent. Conditional performance may be degraded by errors in predicted ENSO and MJO teleconnections to regional rainfall, even at short lead times.

Denotes content that is immediately available upon publication as open access.

Corresponding author address: Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, P.O. Box 243, Reading, Berkshire, United Kingdom. E-mail: nicholas.klingaman@ncas.ac.uk

Abstract

Skilful and reliable predictions of week-to-week rainfall variations in South America, two to three weeks ahead, are essential to protect lives, livelihoods and ecosystems. We evaluate forecast performance for weekly rainfall in extended austral summer (November–March) in four contemporary subseasonal systems, including a new Brazilian model, at 1–5 week leads for 1999–2010. We measure performance by the correlation coefficient (in time) between predicted and observed rainfall; we measure skill by the Brier Skill Score for rainfall terciles against a climatological reference forecast. We assess unconditional performance (i.e., regardless of initial condition) and conditional performance based on the initial phase of the Madden–Julian Oscillation (MJO) and the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO). All models display substantial mean rainfall biases, including dry biases in Amazonia and wet biases near the Andes, which are established by Week 1 and vary little thereafter. Unconditional performance extends to Week 2 in all regions except for Amazonia and the Andes, but to Week 3 only over northern, northeastern and southeastern South America. Skill for upper- and lower-tercile rainfall extends only to Week 1. Conditional performance is not systematically or significantly higher than unconditional performance; ENSO and MJO events provide limited “windows of opportunity” for improved S2S predictions that are region- and model-dependent. Conditional performance may be degraded by errors in predicted ENSO and MJO teleconnections to regional rainfall, even at short lead times.

Denotes content that is immediately available upon publication as open access.

Corresponding author address: Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, P.O. Box 243, Reading, Berkshire, United Kingdom. E-mail: nicholas.klingaman@ncas.ac.uk
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