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Timothy DelSole
and
Xiaosong Yang

Abstract

Regression patterns often are used to diagnose the relation between a field and a climate index, but a significance test for the pattern “as a whole” that accounts for the multiplicity and interdependence of the tests has not been widely available. This paper argues that field significance can be framed as a test of the hypothesis that all regression coefficients vanish in a suitable multivariate regression model. A test for this hypothesis can be derived from the generalized likelihood ratio test. The resulting statistic depends on relevant covariance matrices and accounts for the multiplicity and interdependence of the tests. It also depends only on the canonical correlations between the predictors and predictands, thereby revealing a fundamental connection to canonical correlation analysis. Remarkably, the test statistic is invariant to a reversal of the predictors and predictands, allowing the field significance test to be reduced to a standard univariate hypothesis test. In practice, the test cannot be applied when the number of coefficients exceeds the sample size, reflecting the fact that testing more hypotheses than data is ill conceived. To formulate a proper significance test, the data are represented by a small number of principal components, with the number chosen based on cross-validation experiments. However, instead of selecting the model that minimizes the cross-validated mean square error, a confidence interval for the cross-validated error is estimated and the most parsimonious model whose error is within the confidence interval of the minimum error is chosen. This procedure avoids selecting complex models whose error is close to much simpler models. The procedure is applied to diagnose long-term trends in annual average sea surface temperature and boreal winter 300-hPa zonal wind. In both cases a statistically significant 50-yr trend pattern is extracted. The resulting spatial filter can be used to monitor the evolution of the regression pattern without temporal filtering.

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Songmiao Fan
and
Xiaosong Yang

Abstract

The wintertime Arctic temperature (T; surface–400 hPa) decreased from 1979 to 1997 and increased rapidly from 1998 to 2012, in contrast to the global mean surface air temperature. Here aspects of circulation variability that are associated with these temperature changes are examined using the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis and ERA-Interim products. It is found that the Nordic–Siberia seesaw of meridional winds near 70°N is associated with two-thirds of the variance of the Arctic winter mean T, possibly contributing to the cooling and warming trends. It is suggested here that the seesaw accounts for much of the difference in Arctic amplification between observations and climate models. Growth of sea ice in winter is hindered by southerly winds over the Nordic region (0°–60°E). Through modulation of the wind seesaw, the eastern Atlantic (EA) pattern is found to be significantly associated with Arctic and East Asia winter climate variations. In one phase of the EA pattern, a midlatitude North Atlantic ridge anomaly is associated with a poleward shift of the mean storm track, a weakened eddy-driven jet over Eurasia, and above-normal sea level pressure (SLP) over Siberia, most significantly in the region to the northwest of Lake Baikal. The EA pattern is associated with two-thirds of the variance of winter-average SLP over Siberia.

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Xiaosong Yang
and
Timothy DelSole

Abstract

This paper applies a new field significance test to establish the existence and consistency of ENSO teleconnection patterns across models and observations. An ENSO teleconnection pattern is defined as a field of regression coefficients between an index of the tropical Pacific sea surface temperature and a field of variables such as surface air temperature or precipitation. The test is applied to boreal winter and summer in six continents using observations and hindcasts from the Development of a European Multimodel Ensemble System for Seasonal-to-Interannual Prediction (DEMETER) and the ENSEMBLE-based predictions of climate changes and their impacts (ENSEMBLES) projects. This comparison represents one of the most comprehensive and up-to-date assessments of the extent to which ENSO teleconnection patterns exist and can be reproduced by coupled models.

Statistically significant ENSO teleconnection patterns are detected in both observations and models and in all continents and in both winter and summer seasons, except in two cases: 1) Europe (both seasons and variables), and 2) North America (both variables in boreal summer). Despite many ENSO teleconnection patterns being significant, however, the patterns do not necessarily agree between observations and models. The degree of agreement between models and observations is characterized as “robust,” “moderate,” or “low.” Only Australia and South America are found to have robust agreement between ENSO teleconnection patterns, and then only for limited seasons and variables. Although many of our conclusions regarding teleconnection patterns conform to previous studies, there are exceptions, including the fact that the teleconnection for boreal winter precipitation is generally accepted to exist in Africa but in fact has only low agreement with model simulations, while that in Asia is not widely recognized to exist but is found to be significant and in moderate agreement with model teleconnections.

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Yong-Fei Zhang
,
Mitchell Bushuk
,
Michael Winton
,
Bill Hurlin
,
Xiaosong Yang
,
Tom Delworth
, and
Liwei Jia

Abstract

The current GFDL seasonal prediction system achieved retrospective sea ice extent (SIE) skill without direct sea ice data assimilation. Here we develop sea ice data assimilation, shown to be a key source of skill for seasonal sea ice predictions, in GFDL’s next-generation prediction system, the Seamless System for Prediction and Earth System Research (SPEAR). Satellite sea ice concentration (SIC) observations are assimilated into the GFDL Sea Ice Simulator version 2 (SIS2) using the ensemble adjustment Kalman filter (EAKF). Sea ice physics is perturbed to form an ensemble of ice–ocean members with atmospheric forcing from the JRA-55 reanalysis. Assimilation is performed every 5 days from 1982 to 2017 and the evaluation is conducted at pan-Arctic and regional scales over the same period. To mitigate an assimilation overshoot problem and improve the analysis, sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are restored to the daily Optimum Interpolation Sea Surface Temperature version 2 (OISSTv2). The combination of SIC assimilation and SST restoring reduces analysis errors to the observational error level (~10%) from up to 3 times larger than this (~30%) in the free-running model. Sensitivity experiments show that the choice of assimilation localization half-width (190 km) is near optimal and that SIC analysis errors can be further reduced slightly either by reducing the observational error or by increasing the assimilation frequency from every 5 days to daily. A lagged-correlation analysis suggests substantial prediction skill improvements from SIC initialization at lead times of less than 2 months.

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Gan Zhang
,
Hiroyuki Murakami
,
Xiaosong Yang
,
Kirsten L. Findell
,
Andrew T. Wittenberg
, and
Liwei Jia

Abstract

Climate models often show errors in simulating and predicting tropical cyclone (TC) activity, but the sources of these errors are not well understood. This study proposes an evaluation framework and analyzes three sets of experiments conducted using a seasonal prediction model developed at the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL). These experiments apply the nudging technique to the model integration and/or initialization to estimate possible improvements from nearly perfect model conditions. The results suggest that reducing sea surface temperature (SST) errors remains important for better predicting TC activity at long forecast leads—even in a flux-adjusted model with reduced climatological biases. Other error sources also contribute to biases in simulated TC activity, with notable manifestations on regional scales. A novel finding is that the coupling and initialization of the land and atmosphere components can affect seasonal TC prediction skill. Simulated year-to-year variations in June land conditions over North America show a significant lead correlation with the North Atlantic large-scale environment and TC activity. Improved land–atmosphere initialization appears to improve the Atlantic TC predictions initialized in some summer months. For short-lead predictions initialized in June, the potential skill improvements attributable to land–atmosphere initialization might be comparable to those achievable with perfect SST predictions. Overall, this study delineates the SST and non-oceanic error sources in predicting TC activity and highlights avenues for improving predictions. The nudging-based evaluation framework can be applied to other models and help improve predictions of other weather extremes.

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Wei Zhang
,
Gabriel A. Vecchi
,
Gabriele Villarini
,
Hiroyuki Murakami
,
Richard Gudgel
, and
Xiaosong Yang

Abstract

This study attempts to improve the prediction of western North Pacific (WNP) and East Asia (EA) landfalling tropical cyclones (TCs) using modes of large-scale climate variability [e.g., the Pacific meridional mode (PMM), the Atlantic meridional mode (AMM), and North Atlantic sea surface temperature anomalies (NASST)] as predictors in a hybrid statistical–dynamical scheme, based on dynamical model forecasts with the GFDL Forecast-Oriented Low Ocean Resolution version of CM2.5 with flux adjustments (FLOR-FA). Overall, the predictive skill of the hybrid model for the WNP TC frequency increases from lead month 5 (initialized in January) to lead month 0 (initialized in June) in terms of correlation coefficient and root-mean-square error (RMSE). The hybrid model outperforms FLOR-FA in predicting WNP TC frequency for all lead months. The predictive skill of the hybrid model improves as the forecast lead time decreases, with values of the correlation coefficient increasing from 0.56 for forecasts initialized in January to 0.69 in June. The hybrid models for landfalling TCs over the entire East Asian (EEA) coast and its three subregions [i.e., southern EA (SEA), middle EA (MEA), and northern EA (NEA)] dramatically outperform FLOR-FA. The correlation coefficient between predicted and observed TC landfall over SEA increases from 0.52 for forecasts initialized in January to 0.64 in June. The hybrid models substantially reduce the RMSE of landfalling TCs over SEA and EEA compared with FLOR-FA. This study suggests that the PMM and NASST/AMM can be used to improve statistical/hybrid forecast models for the frequencies of WNP or East Asia landfalling TCs.

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Liping Zhang
,
Thomas L. Delworth
,
William Cooke
,
Hugues Goosse
,
Mitchell Bushuk
,
Yushi Morioka
, and
Xiaosong Yang

Abstract

Previous studies have shown the existence of internal multidecadal variability in the Southern Ocean using multiple climate models. This variability, associated with deep ocean convection, can have significant climate impacts. In this work, we use sensitivity studies based on Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) models to investigate the linkage of this internal variability with the background ocean mean state. We find that mean ocean stratification in the subpolar region that is dominated by mean salinity influences whether this variability occurs, as well as its time scale. The weakening of background stratification favors the occurrence of deep convection. For background stratification states in which the low-frequency variability occurs, weaker ocean stratification corresponds to shorter periods of variability and vice versa. The amplitude of convection variability is largely determined by the amount of heat that can accumulate in the subsurface ocean during periods of the oscillation without deep convection. A larger accumulation of heat in the subsurface reservoir corresponds to a larger amplitude of variability. The subsurface heat buildup is a balance between advection that supplies heat to the reservoir and vertical mixing/convection that depletes it. Subsurface heat accumulation can be intensified both by an enhanced horizontal temperature advection by the Weddell Gyre and by an enhanced ocean stratification leading to reduced vertical mixing and surface heat loss. The paleoclimate records over Antarctica indicate that this multidecadal variability has very likely happened in past climates and that the period of this variability may shift with different climate background mean state.

Open access
Thomas L. Delworth
,
Fanrong Zeng
,
Liping Zhang
,
Rong Zhang
,
Gabriel A. Vecchi
, and
Xiaosong Yang

Abstract

The relationship between the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and Atlantic sea surface temperature (SST) variability is investigated using models and observations. Coupled climate models are used in which the ocean component is either a fully dynamic ocean or a slab ocean with no resolved ocean heat transport. On time scales less than 10 yr, NAO variations drive a tripole pattern of SST anomalies in both observations and models. This SST pattern is a direct response of the ocean mixed layer to turbulent surface heat flux anomalies associated with the NAO. On time scales longer than 10 yr, a similar relationship exists between the NAO and the tripole pattern of SST anomalies in models with a slab ocean. A different relationship exists both for the observations and for models with a dynamic ocean. In these models, a positive (negative) NAO anomaly leads, after a decadal-scale lag, to a monopole pattern of warming (cooling) that resembles the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO), although with smaller-than-observed amplitudes of tropical SST anomalies. Ocean dynamics are critical to this decadal-scale response in the models. The simulated Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) strengthens (weakens) in response to a prolonged positive (negative) phase of the NAO, thereby enhancing (decreasing) poleward heat transport, leading to broad-scale warming (cooling). Additional simulations are used in which heat flux anomalies derived from observed NAO variations from 1901 to 2014 are applied to the ocean component of coupled models. It is shown that ocean dynamics allow models to reproduce important aspects of the observed AMO, mainly in the Subpolar Gyre.

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Mitchell Bushuk
,
Rym Msadek
,
Michael Winton
,
Gabriel A. Vecchi
,
Rich Gudgel
,
Anthony Rosati
, and
Xiaosong Yang

Abstract

Because of its persistence on seasonal time scales, Arctic sea ice thickness (SIT) is a potential source of predictability for summer sea ice extent (SIE). New satellite observations of SIT represent an opportunity to harness this potential predictability via improved thickness initialization in seasonal forecast systems. In this work, the evolution of Arctic sea ice volume anomalies is studied using a 700-yr control integration and a suite of initialized ensemble forecasts from a fully coupled global climate model. This analysis is focused on the September sea ice zone, as this is the region where thickness anomalies have the potential to impact the SIE minimum. The primary finding of this paper is that, in addition to a general decay with time, sea ice volume anomalies display a summer enhancement, in which anomalies tend to grow between the months of May and July. This summer enhancement is relatively symmetric for positive and negative volume anomalies and peaks in July regardless of the initial month. Analysis of the surface energy budget reveals that the summer volume anomaly enhancement is driven by a positive feedback between the SIT state and the surface albedo. The SIT state affects surface albedo through changes in the sea ice concentration field, melt-onset date, snow coverage, and ice thickness distribution, yielding an anomaly in the total absorbed shortwave radiation between May and August, which enhances the existing SIT anomaly. This phenomenon highlights the crucial importance of accurate SIT initialization and representation of ice–albedo feedback processes in seasonal forecast systems.

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Ángel G. Muñoz
,
Xiaosong Yang
,
Gabriel A. Vecchi
,
Andrew W. Robertson
, and
William F. Cooke

Abstract

This study proposes an integrated diagnostic framework based on atmospheric circulation regime spatial patterns and frequencies of occurrence to facilitate the identification of model systematic errors across multiple time scales. To illustrate the approach, three sets of 32-yr-long simulations are analyzed for northeastern North America and for the March–May season using the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory’s Low Ocean–Atmosphere Resolution (LOAR) and Forecast-Oriented Low Ocean Resolution (FLOR) coupled models; the main difference between these two models is the horizontal resolution of the atmospheric model used. Regime-dependent biases are explored in the light of different atmospheric horizontal resolutions and under different nudging approaches. It is found that both models exhibit a fair representation of the observed circulation regime spatial patterns and frequencies of occurrence, although some biases are present independently of the horizontal resolution or the nudging approach and are associated with a misrepresentation of troughs centered north of the Great Lakes and deep coastal troughs. Moreover, the intraseasonal occurrence of certain model regimes is delayed with respect to observations. On the other hand, interexperiment differences in the mean frequencies of occurrence of the simulated weather types, and their variability across multiple time scales, tend to be negligible. This result suggests that low-resolution models could be of potential use to diagnose and predict physical variables via their simulated weather type characteristics.

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