An objective criterion for identifying blocking events is applied to a ten-year climate run of the National Meteorological Center's Medium-Range Forecast Model (MRF) and to observations. The climatology of blocking in the ten-year run is found to be somewhat realistic in the Northern Hemisphere, although when averaged over all longitudes and seasons a general lack of blocking is found. Previous studies have suggested that numerical models are incapable of producing realistic numbers of blocks, however, the ten-year model run is able to produce realistic numbers of blocks for selected geographic regions and seasons. In these regions, blocks are found to persist longer than observed blocking events. The ten-year run of the model is also able to reproduce the average longitudinal extent and motion of the observed blocks. These results suggest that the MRF is able to generate and persist realistic blocks, but only at longitudes and seasons for which the underlying model climate is conducive. In the Southern Hemisphere, the ten-year run blocking climatology is considerably less realistic. The appearance of “transient” blocking events in the model distinguishes it from the Southern Hemisphere observations and from the Northern Hemisphere.

A set of 60-day forecasts by the MRF is used to evaluate the evolution of the model blocking climatology with lead time (blocking climate drift) for a 90-day period in autumn of 1990. Although the ten-year run and observed blocking climates are quite similar at most longitudes at this time of year, it is found that blocking almost entirely disappears from the model forecasts at lead times of approximately 10 days before reappearing at leads greater than 15 days. It is argued that this lack of a direct transition between observed and model blocking climates is the result of a drift in the underlying climate (for example, the positions of the jet streams) in the MRF forecasts. If so, the climate drift of the MRF must he further reduced in order to produce more accurate medium-range forecasts of blocking events.

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