Abstract

Seasonal climate forecasts from raw climate models at coarse grids are often biased and statistically unreliable for credible crop prediction at the farm scale. We develop a copula-based postprocessing (CPP) method to overcome this mismatch problem. The CPP forecasts are ensemble based and are generated from the predictive distribution conditioned on raw climate forecasts. CPP performs univariate postprocessing procedures at each station, lead time, and variable separately and then applies the Schaake shuffle to reorder ensemble sequence for a more realistic spatial, temporal, and cross-variable dependence structure. The use of copulas makes CPP free of strong distributional assumptions and flexible enough to describe complex dependence structures. In a case study, we apply CPP to postprocess rainfall, minimum temperature, maximum temperature, and radiation forecasts at a monthly level from the Australian Community Climate and Earth-System Simulator Seasonal model (ACCESS-S) to three representative stations in Australia. We evaluate forecast skill at lead times of 0–5 months on a cross-validation theme in the context of both univariate and multivariate forecast verification. When compared with forecasts that use climatological values as the predictor, the CPP forecast has positive skills, although the skills diminish with increasing lead times and finally become comparable at long lead times. When compared with the bias-corrected forecasts and the quantile-mapped forecasts, the CPP forecast is the overall best, with the smallest bias and greatest univariate forecast skill. As a result of the skill gain from univariate forecasts and the effect of the Schaake shuffle, CPP leads to the most skillful multivariate forecast as well. Further results investigate whether using ensemble mean or additional predictors can enhance forecast skill for CPP.

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