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Timothy J. Mosedale
,
David B. Stephenson
, and
Matthew Collins

Abstract

A simple linear stochastic climate model of extratropical wintertime ocean–atmosphere coupling is used to diagnose the daily interactions between the ocean and the atmosphere in a fully coupled general circulation model. Monte Carlo simulations with the simple model show that the influence of the ocean on the atmosphere can be difficult to estimate, being biased low even with multiple decades of daily data. Despite this, fitting the simple model to the surface air temperature and sea surface temperature data from the complex general circulation model reveals an ocean-to-atmosphere influence in the northeastern Atlantic. Furthermore, the simple model is used to demonstrate that the ocean in this region greatly enhances the autocorrelation in overlying lower-tropospheric temperatures at lags from a few days to many months.

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Fotis Panagiotopoulos
,
Maria Shahgedanova
,
Abdelwaheb Hannachi
, and
David B. Stephenson

Abstract

This study investigates variability in the intensity of the wintertime Siberian high (SH) by defining a robust SH index (SHI) and correlating it with selected meteorological fields and teleconnection indices. A dramatic trend of –2.5 hPa decade−1 has been found in the SHI between 1978 and 2001 with unprecedented (since 1871) low values of the SHI. The weakening of the SH has been confirmed by analyzing different historical gridded analyses and individual station observations of sea level pressure (SLP) and excluding possible effects from the conversion of surface pressure to SLP.

SHI correlation maps with various meteorological fields show that SH impacts on circulation and temperature patterns extend far outside the SH source area extending from the Arctic to the tropical Pacific. Advection of warm air from eastern Europe has been identified as the main mechanism causing milder than normal conditions over the Kara and Laptev Seas in association with a strong SH. Despite the strong impacts of the variability in the SH on climatic variability across the Northern Hemisphere, correlations between the SHI and the main teleconnection indices of the Northern Hemisphere are weak. Regression analysis has shown that teleconnection indices are not able to reproduce the interannual variability and trends in the SH. The inclusion of regional surface temperature in the regression model provides closer agreement between the original and reconstructed SHI.

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Donald P. Cummins
,
David B. Stephenson
, and
Peter A. Stott

Abstract

This study has developed a rigorous and efficient maximum likelihood method for estimating the parameters in stochastic energy balance models (with any k > 0 number of boxes) given time series of surface temperature and top-of-the-atmosphere net downward radiative flux. The method works by finding a state-space representation of the linear dynamic system and evaluating the likelihood recursively via the Kalman filter. Confidence intervals for estimated parameters are straightforward to construct in the maximum likelihood framework, and information criteria may be used to choose an optimal number of boxes for parsimonious k-box emulation of atmosphere–ocean general circulation models (AOGCMs). In addition to estimating model parameters the method enables hidden state estimation for the unobservable boxes corresponding to the deep ocean, and also enables noise filtering for observations of surface temperature. The feasibility, reliability, and performance of the proposed method are demonstrated in a simulation study. To obtain a set of optimal k-box emulators, models are fitted to the 4 × CO2 step responses of 16 AOGCMs in CMIP5. It is found that for all 16 AOGCMs three boxes are required for optimal k-box emulation. The number of boxes k is found to influence, sometimes strongly, the impulse responses of the fitted models.

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Maarten H. P. Ambaum
,
Brian J. Hoskins
, and
David B. Stephenson

Abstract

The definition and interpretation of the Arctic oscillation (AO) are examined and compared with those of the North Atlantic oscillation (NAO). It is shown that the NAO reflects the correlations between the surface pressure variability at its centers of action, whereas this is not the case for the AO. The NAO pattern can be identified in a physically consistent way in principal component analysis applied to various fields in the Euro-Atlantic region. A similar identification is found in the Pacific region for the Pacific–North American (PNA) pattern, but no such identification is found here for the AO. The AO does reflect the tendency for the zonal winds at 35° and 55°N to anticorrelate in both the Atlantic and Pacific regions associated with the NAO and PNA. Because climatological features in the two ocean basins are at different latitudes, the zonally symmetric nature of the AO does not mean that it represents a simple modulation of the circumpolar flow. An increase in the AO or NAO implies strong, separated tropospheric jets in the Atlantic but a weakened Pacific jet. The PNA has strong related variability in the Pacific jet exit, but elsewhere the zonal wind is similar to that related to the NAO. The NAO-related zonal winds link strongly through to the stratosphere in the Atlantic sector. The PNA-related winds do so in the Pacific, but to a lesser extent. The results suggest that the NAO paradigm may be more physically relevant and robust for Northern Hemisphere variability than is the AO paradigm. However, this does not disqualify many of the physical mechanisms associated with annular modes for explaining the existence of the NAO.

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Maarten H. P. Ambaum
,
Brian J. Hoskins
, and
David B. Stephenson
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Mark P. Baldwin
,
David B. Stephenson
, and
Ian T. Jolliffe

Abstract

Often there is a need to consider spatial weighting in methods for finding spatial patterns in climate data. The focus of this paper is on techniques that maximize variance, such as empirical orthogonal functions (EOFs). A weighting matrix is introduced into a generalized framework for dealing with spatial weighting. One basic principal in the design of the weighting matrix is that the resulting spatial patterns are independent of the grid used to represent the data. A weighting matrix can also be used for other purposes, such as to compensate for the neglect of unrepresented subgrid-scale variance or, in the form of a prewhitening filter, to maximize the signal-to-noise ratio of EOFs. The new methodology is applicable to other types of climate pattern analysis, such as extended EOF analysis and maximum covariance analysis. The increasing availability of large datasets of three-dimensional gridded variables (e.g., reanalysis products and model output) raises special issues for data-reduction methods such as EOFs. Fast, memory-efficient methods are required in order to extract leading EOFs from such large datasets. This study proposes one such approach based on a simple iteration of successive projections of the data onto time series and spatial maps. It is also demonstrated that spatial weighting can be combined with the iterative methods. Throughout the paper, multivariate statistics notation is used, simplifying implementation as matrix commands in high-level computing languages.

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Mathew Alexander Stiller-Reeve
,
David B. Stephenson
, and
Thomas Spengler

Abstract

For climate services to be relevant and informative for users, scientific data definitions need to match users’ perceptions or beliefs. This study proposes and tests novel yet simple methods to compare beliefs of timing of recurrent climatic events with empirical evidence from multiple historical time series. The methods are tested by applying them to the onset date of the monsoon in Bangladesh, where several scientific monsoon definitions can be applied, yielding different results for monsoon onset dates. It is a challenge to know which monsoon definition compares best with people’s beliefs. Time series from eight different scientific monsoon definitions in six regions are compared with respondent beliefs from a previously completed survey concerning the monsoon onset.

Beliefs about the timing of the monsoon onset are represented probabilistically for each respondent by constructing a probability mass function (PMF) from elicited responses about the earliest, normal, and latest dates for the event. A three-parameter circular modified triangular distribution (CMTD) is used to allow for the possibility (albeit small) of the onset at any time of the year. These distributions are then compared to the historical time series using two approaches: likelihood scores, and the mean and standard deviation of time series of dates simulated from each belief distribution.

The methods proposed give the basis for further iterative discussion with decision-makers in the development of eventual climate services. This study uses Jessore, Bangladesh, as an example and finds that a rainfall definition, applying a 10 mm day−1 threshold to NCEP–NCAR reanalysis (Reanalyis-1) data, best matches the survey respondents’ beliefs about monsoon onset.

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Cristina Primo
,
Christopher A. T. Ferro
,
Ian T. Jolliffe
, and
David B. Stephenson

Abstract

Probabilistic forecasts of atmospheric variables are often given as relative frequencies obtained from ensembles of deterministic forecasts. The detrimental effects of imperfect models and initial conditions on the quality of such forecasts can be mitigated by calibration. This paper shows that Bayesian methods currently used to incorporate prior information can be written as special cases of a beta-binomial model and correspond to a linear calibration of the relative frequencies. These methods are compared with a nonlinear calibration technique (i.e., logistic regression) using real precipitation forecasts. Calibration is found to be advantageous in all cases considered, and logistic regression is preferable to linear methods.

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Timothy J. Mosedale
,
David B. Stephenson
,
Matthew Collins
, and
Terence C. Mills

Abstract

This study uses a Granger causality time series modeling approach to quantitatively diagnose the feedback of daily sea surface temperatures (SSTs) on daily values of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) as simulated by a realistic coupled general circulation model (GCM). Bivariate vector autoregressive time series models are carefully fitted to daily wintertime SST and NAO time series produced by a 50-yr simulation of the Third Hadley Centre Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere GCM (HadCM3). The approach demonstrates that there is a small yet statistically significant feedback of SSTs on the NAO. The SST tripole index is found to provide additional predictive information for the NAO than that available by using only past values of NAO—the SST tripole is Granger causal for the NAO. Careful examination of local SSTs reveals that much of this effect is due to the effect of SSTs in the region of the Gulf Steam, especially south of Cape Hatteras. The effect of SSTs on NAO is responsible for the slower-than-exponential decay in lag-autocorrelations of NAO notable at lags longer than 10 days. The persistence induced in daily NAO by SSTs causes long-term means of NAO to have more variance than expected from averaging NAO noise if there is no feedback of the ocean on the atmosphere. There are greater long-term trends in NAO than can be expected from aggregating just short-term atmospheric noise, and NAO is potentially predictable provided that future SSTs are known. For example, there is about 10%–30% more variance in seasonal wintertime means of NAO and almost 70% more variance in annual means of NAO due to SST effects than one would expect if NAO were a purely atmospheric process.

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Stefan Siegert
,
David B. Stephenson
,
Philip G. Sansom
,
Adam A. Scaife
,
Rosie Eade
, and
Alberto Arribas

Abstract

Predictability estimates of ensemble prediction systems are uncertain because of limited numbers of past forecasts and observations. To account for such uncertainty, this paper proposes a Bayesian inferential framework that provides a simple 6-parameter representation of ensemble forecasting systems and the corresponding observations. The framework is probabilistic and thus allows for quantifying uncertainty in predictability measures, such as correlation skill and signal-to-noise ratios. It also provides a natural way to produce recalibrated probabilistic predictions from uncalibrated ensembles forecasts.

The framework is used to address important questions concerning the skill of winter hindcasts of the North Atlantic Oscillation for 1992–2011 issued by the Met Office Global Seasonal Forecast System, version 5 (GloSea5), climate prediction system. Although there is much uncertainty in the correlation between ensemble mean and observations, there is strong evidence of skill: the 95% credible interval of the correlation coefficient of [0.19, 0.68] does not overlap zero. There is also strong evidence that the forecasts are not exchangeable with the observations: with over 99% certainty, the signal-to-noise ratio of the forecasts is smaller than the signal-to-noise ratio of the observations, which suggests that raw forecasts should not be taken as representative scenarios of the observations. Forecast recalibration is thus required, which can be coherently addressed within the proposed framework.

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