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Chester F. Ropelewski

Abstract

Monthly estimates of Antarctic sea-ice area for the past decade were extracted from operational churts. Empirical orthogonal function analyses of these satellite-derived data revealed the existence of six distinct ice area sub-regions. Comparison of ice area time series for these sub-regions highlights the substantial differences among them. For example, total sea-ice extent typically reached a maximum in either August or September, while the Ron Sea often exhibited two relative maxima (July and October). The data show considerable year-to-year variability during this short period of record with the minimum sea-ice area varying by more than a factor of two and maximum sea-ice area varying by almost 20%. The large year-to-year variability precludes a reliable identification of longer term trends during the relatively short era of satellite observations.

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Chester F. Ropelewski

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Chester F. Ropelewski

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No abstract available.

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Thomas M. Smith and Chester F. Ropelewski

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This paper is an extension of a study by C. Ropelewski and M. Halpert, which examines observed precipitation relationships with the Southern Oscillation. Here, the authors repeat their analysis using atmospheric general circulation model precipitation from the average of a 13-run ensemble. The GCM is the atmospheric component of the coupled model used for seasonal prediction at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction, except that in this study, the observed sea surface temperatures were specified for the ensemble runs. Results are compared and contrasted with the observed Southern Oscillation–related precipitation behavior. These comparisons show that the multiple ensemble simulations compare favorably to the observations for most areas in the Tropics and subtropics. However, outside of the deep Tropics, the model simulations show large shifts or biases in the location of the Southern Oscillation–related anomalies. In particular, anomalies shown by the observations to occur in the southeastern United States are shifted westward in the simulation.

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Chester F. Ropelewski, Alan Robock, and Michael Matson

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Anthony G. Barnston and Chester F. Ropelewski

Abstract

Canonical correlation analysis (CCA) is explored as a multivariate linear statistical methodology with which to forecast fluctuations of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in real time. CCA is capable of identifying critical sequence of predictor patterns that tend to evolve into subsequent patterns that can be used to form a forecast.

The CCA model is used to forecast the 3-month mean sea surface temperature (SST) in several regions of the tropical Pacific and Indian oceans for projection times of 0 to 4 seasons beyond the immediately forthcoming season. The predictor variables, representing the climate situation in the four consecutive 3-month periods ending at the time of the forecast, are 1) quasi-global seasonal mean sea level pressure (SLP) and 2) SST in the predictand regions themselves. Forecast skill is estimated using cross-validation, and persistence is used as the primary skill control measure.

Results indicate that a large region in the eastern equatorial Pacific (120°−170°W longitude) has the highest overall predictability, with excellent skill realized for winter forecasts made at the end of summer. CCA outperforms persistence in this region under most conditions, and does noticeably better with the SST included as a predictor in addition to the SLP.

It is demonstrated that better forecast performance at the longer lead times would be obtained if some significantly earlier (i.e., up to 4 years) predictor data were included, because the ability to predict the lower-frequency ENSO phase changes would increase. The good performance of the current system at shorter lead times appears to be based largely on the ability to predict ENSO evolution for events already in progress.

The forecasting of the eastern tropical Pacific SST using CCA is now done routinely on a monthly basis for a 0-, 1-, and 2-season lead at the Climate Analysis Center. Further refinements, and expected associated increases in skill, are planned for the coming several years.

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Chester F. Ropelewski and Michael S. Halpert

Abstract

A series of earlier studies has identified regions of the world in which precipitation appears to have a consistent relationship with the Southern Oscillation (SO). In this paper, the authors attempt to quantify this relationship based on shifts in the statistical distribution of precipitation amounts with emphasis on shifts in the median, which are associated with the warm (low SO index) and cold (high SO index) phases of the SO. This paper is partially an attempt to provide long-range forecasters with some guidance in making seasonal and multiseasonal predictions. Observed SO-related shifts in the median precipitation amounts, expressed as percentiles with respect to “climatological” conditions, can he used as a simple indication of the “typical” SO response for a given region. In general, the authors find that for many of the large areas identified in previous studies, median precipitation amounts shift on the order of 20 percentile points, that is, from the median to either the 30th percentile or the 70th percentile. The authors also find considerable spatial variations in the typical patterns of SO-related precipitation percentiles in some regions.

This study also provides empirically based estimates of SO-related precipitation anomalies in terms of precipitation rates for use in numerical model studies. For selected areas in the Tropics, the authors find empirically estimated anomalous precipitation rates ranging from 1 to 3.5 mm/day, that is, from 15% to 83% of the climatological median.

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Michael S. Halpert and Chester F. Ropelewski

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No abstract available.

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Donald P. Wylie and Chester F. Ropelewski

A tethered sonde, the Boundary Layer Instrument System (BLIS), was designed for use from shipboard platforms in the GARP Atlantic Tropical Experiment (GATE). This system was able to monitor the thermal and kinematic properties of the boundary layer from approximately 100 m to the level of cloud base (800–1000 m). Five levels were simultaneously sampled for periods up to 24 h in length. More detailed vertical structure measurements were obtained by raising and lowering the tethered balloon. The mechanical details of the system and its accuracy in monitoring boundary layer changes and vertical motions are described.

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