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Robert E. Livezey
,
Konstantin Y. Vinnikov
,
Marina M. Timofeyeva
,
Richard Tinker
, and
Huug M. van den Dool

Abstract

WMO-recommended 30-yr normals are no longer generally useful for the design, planning, and decision-making purposes for which they were intended. They not only have little relevance to the future climate, but are often unrepresentative of the current climate. The reason for this is rapid global climate change over the last 30 yr that is likely to continue into the future. It is demonstrated that simple empirical alternatives already are available that not only produce reasonably accurate normals for the current climate but also often justify their extrapolation to several years into the future. This result is tied to the condition that recent trends in the climate are approximately linear or have a substantial linear component. This condition is generally satisfied for the U.S. climate-division data. One alternative [the optimal climate normal (OCN)] is multiyear averages that are not fixed at 30 yr like WMO normals are but rather are adapted climate record by climate record based on easily estimated characteristics of the records. The OCN works well except with very strong trends or longer extrapolations with more moderate trends. In these cases least squares linear trend fits to the period since the mid-1970s are viable alternatives. An even better alternative is the use of “hinge fit” normals, based on modeling the time dependence of large-scale climate change. Here, longer records can be exploited to stabilize estimates of modern trends. Related issues are the need to avoid arbitrary trend fitting and to account for trends in studies of ENSO impacts. Given these results, the authors recommend that (a) the WMO and national climate services address new policies for changing climate normals using the results here as a starting point and (b) NOAA initiate a program for improved estimates and forecasts of official U.S. normals, including operational implementation of a simple hybrid system that combines the advantages of both the OCN and the hinge fit.

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Ming Cai
,
Yueyue Yu
,
Yi Deng
,
Huug M. van den Dool
,
Rongcai Ren
,
Suru Saha
,
Xingren Wu
, and
Jin Huang

Abstract

Extreme weather events such as cold-air outbreaks (CAOs) pose great threats to human life and the socioeconomic well-being of modern society. In the past, our capability to predict their occurrences has been constrained by the 2-week predictability limit for weather. We demonstrate here for the first time that a rapid increase of air mass transported into the polar stratosphere, referred to as the pulse of the stratosphere (PULSE), can often be predicted with a useful degree of skill 4–6 weeks in advance by operational forecast models. We further show that the probability of the occurrence of continental-scale CAOs in midlatitudes increases substantially above normal conditions within a short time period from 1 week before to 1–2 weeks after the peak day of a PULSE event. In particular, we reveal that the three massive CAOs over North America in January and February of 2014 were preceded by three episodes of extreme mass transport into the polar stratosphere with peak intensities reaching a trillion tons per day, twice that on an average winter day. Therefore, our capability to predict the PULSEs with operational forecast models, in conjunction with its linkage to continental-scale CAOs, opens up a new opportunity for 30-day forecasts of continental-scale CAOs, such as those occurring over North America during the 2013/14 winter. A real-time forecast experiment inaugurated in the winter of 2014/15 has given support to the idea that it is feasible to forecast CAOs 1 month in advance.

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Anthony G. Barnston
,
Ants Leetmaa
,
Vernon E. Kousky
,
Robert E. Livezey
,
Edward A. O'Lenic
,
Huug Van den Dool
,
A. James Wagner
, and
David A. Unger

The strong El Niño of 1997–98 provided a unique opportunity for National Weather Service, National Centers for Environmental Prediction, Climate Prediction Center (CPC) forecasters to apply several years of accumulated new knowledge of the U.S. impacts of El Niño to their long-lead seasonal forecasts with more clarity and confidence than ever previously. This paper examines the performance of CPC's official forecasts, and its individual component forecast tools, during this event. Heavy winter precipitation across California and the southern plains–Gulf coast region was accurately forecast with at least six months of lead time. Dryness was also correctly forecast in Montana and in the southwestern Ohio Valley. The warmth across the northern half of the country was correctly forecast, but extended farther south and east than predicted. As the winter approached, forecaster confidence in the forecast pattern increased, and the probability anomalies that were assigned reached unprecedented levels in the months immediately preceding the winter. Verification scores for winter 1997/98 forecasts set a new record at CPC for precipitation.

Forecasts for the autumn preceding the El Niño winter were less skillful than those of winter, but skill for temperature was still higher than the average expected for autumn. The precipitation forecasts for autumn showed little skill. Forecasts for the spring following the El Niño were poor, as an unexpected circulation pattern emerged, giving the southern and southeastern United States a significant drought. This pattern, which differed from the historical El Niño pattern for spring, may have been related to a large pool of anomalously warm water that remained in the far eastern tropical Pacific through summer 1998 while the waters in the central Pacific cooled as the El Niño was replaced by a La Niña by the first week of June.

It is suggested that in addition to the obvious effects of the 1997–98 El Niño on 3-month mean climate in the United States, the El Niño (indeed, any strong El Niño or La Niña) may have provided a positive influence on the skill of medium-range forecasts of 5-day mean climate anomalies. This would reflect first the connection between the mean seasonal conditions and the individual contributing synoptic events, but also the possibly unexpected effect of the tropical boundary forcing unique to a given synoptic event. Circumstantial evidence suggests that the skill of medium-range forecasts is increased during lead times (and averaging periods) long enough that the boundary conditions have a noticeable effect, but not so long that the skill associated with the initial conditions disappears. Firmer evidence of a beneficial influence of ENSO on subclimate-scale forecast skill is needed, as the higher skill may be associated just with the higher amplitude of the forecasts, regardless of the reason for that amplitude.

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Robert Kistler
,
Eugenia Kalnay
,
William Collins
,
Suranjana Saha
,
Glenn White
,
John Woollen
,
Muthuvel Chelliah
,
Wesley Ebisuzaki
,
Masao Kanamitsu
,
Vernon Kousky
,
Huug van den Dool
,
Roy Jenne
, and
Michael Fiorino
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Suranjana Saha
,
Shrinivas Moorthi
,
Xingren Wu
,
Jiande Wang
,
Sudhir Nadiga
,
Patrick Tripp
,
David Behringer
,
Yu-Tai Hou
,
Hui-ya Chuang
,
Mark Iredell
,
Michael Ek
,
Jesse Meng
,
Rongqian Yang
,
Malaquías Peña Mendez
,
Huug van den Dool
,
Qin Zhang
,
Wanqiu Wang
,
Mingyue Chen
, and
Emily Becker

Abstract

The second version of the NCEP Climate Forecast System (CFSv2) was made operational at NCEP in March 2011. This version has upgrades to nearly all aspects of the data assimilation and forecast model components of the system. A coupled reanalysis was made over a 32-yr period (1979–2010), which provided the initial conditions to carry out a comprehensive reforecast over 29 years (1982–2010). This was done to obtain consistent and stable calibrations, as well as skill estimates for the operational subseasonal and seasonal predictions at NCEP with CFSv2. The operational implementation of the full system ensures a continuity of the climate record and provides a valuable up-to-date dataset to study many aspects of predictability on the seasonal and subseasonal scales. Evaluation of the reforecasts show that the CFSv2 increases the length of skillful MJO forecasts from 6 to 17 days (dramatically improving subseasonal forecasts), nearly doubles the skill of seasonal forecasts of 2-m temperatures over the United States, and significantly improves global SST forecasts over its predecessor. The CFSv2 not only provides greatly improved guidance at these time scales but also creates many more products for subseasonal and seasonal forecasting with an extensive set of retrospective forecasts for users to calibrate their forecast products. These retrospective and real-time operational forecasts will be used by a wide community of users in their decision making processes in areas such as water management for rivers and agriculture, transportation, energy use by utilities, wind and other sustainable energy, and seasonal prediction of the hurricane season.

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Anthony G. Barnston
,
Huug M. van den Dool
,
Stephen E. Zebiak
,
Tim P. Barnett
,
Ming Ji
,
David R. Rodenhuis
,
Mark A. Cane
,
Ants Leetmaa
,
Nicholas E. Graham
,
Chester R. Ropelewski
,
Vernon E. Kousky
,
Edward A. O'Lenic
, and
Robert E. Livezey

The National Weather Service intends to begin routinely issuing long-lead forecasts of 3-month mean U. S. temperature and precipitation by the beginning of 1995. The ability to produce useful forecasts for certain seasons and regions at projection times of up to 1 yr is attributed to advances in data observing and processing, computer capability, and physical understanding—particularly, for tropical ocean-atmosphere phenomena. Because much of the skill of the forecasts comes from anomalies of tropical SST related to ENSO, we highlight here long-lead forecasts of the tropical Pacific SST itself, which have higher skill than the U.S forecasts that are made largely on their basis.

The performance of five ENSO prediction systems is examined: Two are dynamical [the Cane-Zebiak simple coupled model of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the nonsimple coupled model of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP)]; one is a hybrid coupled model (the Scripps Institution for Oceanography-Max Planck Institute for Meteorology system with a full ocean general circulation model and a statistical atmosphere); and two are statistical (canonical correlation analysis and constructed analogs, used at the Climate Prediction Center of NCEP). With increasing physical understanding, dynamically based forecasts have the potential to become more skillful than purely statistical ones. Currently, however, the two approaches deliver roughly equally skillful forecasts, and the simplest model performs about as well as the more comprehensive models. At a lead time of 6 months (defined here as the time between the end of the latest observed period and the beginning of the predict and period), the SST forecasts have an overall correlation skill in the 0.60s for 1982–93, which easily outperforms persistence and is regarded as useful. Skill for extra-tropical surface climate is this high only in limited regions for certain seasons. Both types of forecasts are not much better than local higher-order autoregressive controls. However, continual progress is being made in understanding relations among global oceanic and atmospheric climate-scale anomaly fields.

It is important that more real-time forecasts be made before we rush to judgement. Performance in the real-time setting is the ultimate test of the utility of a long-lead forecast. The National Weather Service's plan to implement new operational long-lead seasonal forecast products demonstrates its effectiveness in identifying and transferring “cutting edge” technologies from theory to applications. This could not have been accomplished without close ties with, and the active cooperation of, the academic and research communities.

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Ben P. Kirtman
,
Dughong Min
,
Johnna M. Infanti
,
James L. Kinter III
,
Daniel A. Paolino
,
Qin Zhang
,
Huug van den Dool
,
Suranjana Saha
,
Malaquias Pena Mendez
,
Emily Becker
,
Peitao Peng
,
Patrick Tripp
,
Jin Huang
,
David G. DeWitt
,
Michael K. Tippett
,
Anthony G. Barnston
,
Shuhua Li
,
Anthony Rosati
,
Siegfried D. Schubert
,
Michele Rienecker
,
Max Suarez
,
Zhao E. Li
,
Jelena Marshak
,
Young-Kwon Lim
,
Joseph Tribbia
,
Kathleen Pegion
,
William J. Merryfield
,
Bertrand Denis
, and
Eric F. Wood

The recent U.S. National Academies report, Assessment of Intraseasonal to Interannual Climate Prediction and Predictability, was unequivocal in recommending the need for the development of a North American Multimodel Ensemble (NMME) operational predictive capability. Indeed, this effort is required to meet the specific tailored regional prediction and decision support needs of a large community of climate information users.

The multimodel ensemble approach has proven extremely effective at quantifying prediction uncertainty due to uncertainty in model formulation and has proven to produce better prediction quality (on average) than any single model ensemble. This multimodel approach is the basis for several international collaborative prediction research efforts and an operational European system, and there are numerous examples of how this multimodel ensemble approach yields superior forecasts compared to any single model.

Based on two NOAA Climate Test bed (CTB) NMME workshops (18 February and 8 April 2011), a collaborative and coordinated implementation strategy for a NMME prediction system has been developed and is currently delivering real-time seasonal-to-interannual predictions on the NOAA Climate Prediction Center (CPC) operational schedule. The hindcast and real-time prediction data are readily available (e.g., http://iridl.ldeo.columbia.edu/SOURCES/.Models/.NMME/) and in graphical format from CPC (www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/NMME/). Moreover, the NMME forecast is already currently being used as guidance for operational forecasters. This paper describes the new NMME effort, and presents an overview of the multimodel forecast quality and the complementary skill associated with individual models.

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Suranjana Saha
,
Shrinivas Moorthi
,
Hua-Lu Pan
,
Xingren Wu
,
Jiande Wang
,
Sudhir Nadiga
,
Patrick Tripp
,
Robert Kistler
,
John Woollen
,
David Behringer
,
Haixia Liu
,
Diane Stokes
,
Robert Grumbine
,
George Gayno
,
Jun Wang
,
Yu-Tai Hou
,
Hui-ya Chuang
,
Hann-Ming H. Juang
,
Joe Sela
,
Mark Iredell
,
Russ Treadon
,
Daryl Kleist
,
Paul Van Delst
,
Dennis Keyser
,
John Derber
,
Michael Ek
,
Jesse Meng
,
Helin Wei
,
Rongqian Yang
,
Stephen Lord
,
Huug van den Dool
,
Arun Kumar
,
Wanqiu Wang
,
Craig Long
,
Muthuvel Chelliah
,
Yan Xue
,
Boyin Huang
,
Jae-Kyung Schemm
,
Wesley Ebisuzaki
,
Roger Lin
,
Pingping Xie
,
Mingyue Chen
,
Shuntai Zhou
,
Wayne Higgins
,
Cheng-Zhi Zou
,
Quanhua Liu
,
Yong Chen
,
Yong Han
,
Lidia Cucurull
,
Richard W. Reynolds
,
Glenn Rutledge
, and
Mitch Goldberg

The NCEP Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR) was completed for the 31-yr period from 1979 to 2009, in January 2010. The CFSR was designed and executed as a global, high-resolution coupled atmosphere–ocean–land surface–sea ice system to provide the best estimate of the state of these coupled domains over this period. The current CFSR will be extended as an operational, real-time product into the future. New features of the CFSR include 1) coupling of the atmosphere and ocean during the generation of the 6-h guess field, 2) an interactive sea ice model, and 3) assimilation of satellite radiances by the Gridpoint Statistical Interpolation (GSI) scheme over the entire period. The CFSR global atmosphere resolution is ~38 km (T382) with 64 levels extending from the surface to 0.26 hPa. The global ocean's latitudinal spacing is 0.25° at the equator, extending to a global 0.5° beyond the tropics, with 40 levels to a depth of 4737 m. The global land surface model has four soil levels and the global sea ice model has three layers. The CFSR atmospheric model has observed variations in carbon dioxide (CO2) over the 1979–2009 period, together with changes in aerosols and other trace gases and solar variations. Most available in situ and satellite observations were included in the CFSR. Satellite observations were used in radiance form, rather than retrieved values, and were bias corrected with “spin up” runs at full resolution, taking into account variable CO2 concentrations. This procedure enabled the smooth transitions of the climate record resulting from evolutionary changes in the satellite observing system.

CFSR atmospheric, oceanic, and land surface output products are available at an hourly time resolution and a horizontal resolution of 0.5° latitude × 0.5° longitude. The CFSR data will be distributed by the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) and NCAR. This reanalysis will serve many purposes, including providing the basis for most of the NCEP Climate Prediction Center's operational climate products by defining the mean states of the atmosphere, ocean, land surface, and sea ice over the next 30-yr climate normal (1981–2010); providing initial conditions for historical forecasts that are required to calibrate operational NCEP climate forecasts (from week 2 to 9 months); and providing estimates and diagnoses of the Earth's climate state over the satellite data period for community climate research.

Preliminary analysis of the CFSR output indicates a product that is far superior in most respects to the reanalysis of the mid-1990s. The previous NCEP–NCAR reanalyses have been among the most used NCEP products in history; there is every reason to believe the CFSR will supersede these older products both in scope and quality, because it is higher in time and space resolution, covers the atmosphere, ocean, sea ice, and land, and was executed in a coupled mode with a more modern data assimilation system and forecast model.

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