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G. Cristina Recalde-Coronel, Anthony G. Barnston, and Ángel G. Muñoz

Abstract

In Ecuador, forecasts of seasonal total rainfall could mitigate both flooding and drought disasters through warning systems if issued at useful lead time. In Ecuador, rainfall from December to April contributes most of the annual total, and it is crucial to agricultural and water management. This study examines the predictive skill for February–April and December–February seasonal rainfall totals using statistical and dynamical approaches. Fields of preceding observed sea surface temperature (SST) are used as predictors for a purely statistical prediction, and predictions of an atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM) are used as predictors with a model output statistics correction design using canonical correlation analysis. For both periods, results indicate considerable predictive skill in some, but not all, portions of the Andean and especially coastal regions. The skill of SST and AGCM predictors comes mainly through skillful rainfall anomaly forecasts during significant ENSO events. Atlantic Ocean SST plays a weaker predictive role. For the simultaneous diagnostic highest skill is obtained using the eastern Pacific Ocean domain, and for time-lagged forecasts highest scores are found using the global tropical ocean domain. This finding suggests that, while eastern Pacific SST is what matters most to Ecuadorian rainfall, at sufficient lead time these local SSTs become most effectively predicted using basinwide ENSO predictors. In Ecuador’s coastal region, and in some parts of the Andean highlands, skill levels are sufficient for warning systems to reduce economic losses associated with flood and drought. Accordingly, the Instituto Nacional Meteorologia e Hidrologia of Ecuador issues forecasts each month using methods described here—also implemented by countries of the Latin American Observatory partnership, among other South American organizations.

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Stefano Materia, Ángel G. Muñoz, M. Carmen Álvarez-Castro, Simon J. Mason, Frederic Vitart, and Silvio Gualdi

Abstract

Producing probabilistic subseasonal forecasts of extreme events up to six weeks in advance is crucial for many economic sectors. In agribusiness, this time scale is particularly critical because it allows for mitigation strategies to be adopted for counteracting weather hazards and taking advantage of opportunities. For example, spring frosts are detrimental for many nut trees, resulting in dramatic losses at harvest time. To explore subseasonal forecast quality in boreal spring, identified as one of the most sensitive times of the year by agribusiness end users, we build a multisystem ensemble using four models involved in the Subseasonal to Seasonal Prediction project (S2S). Two-meter temperature forecasts are used to analyze cold spell predictions in the coastal Black Sea region, an area that is a global leader in the production of hazelnuts. When analyzed at the global scale, the multisystem ensemble probabilistic forecasts for near-surface temperature are better than climatological values for several regions, especially the tropics, even many weeks in advance; however, in the coastal Black Sea, skill is low after the second forecast week. When cold spells are predicted instead of near-surface temperatures, skill improves for the region, and the forecasts prove to contain potentially useful information to stakeholders willing to put mitigation plans into effect. Using a cost–loss model approach for the first time in this context, we show that there is added value of having such a forecast system instead of a business-as-usual strategy, not only for predictions released 1–2 weeks ahead of the extreme event, but also at longer lead times.

Open access
Stefano Materia, Ángel G. Muñoz, M. Carmen Álvarez-Castro, Simon J. Mason, Frederic Vitart, and Silvio Gualdi

Abstract

Producing probabilistic subseasonal forecasts of extreme events up to six weeks in advance is crucial for many economic sectors. In agribusiness, this time scale is particularly critical because it allows for mitigation strategies to be adopted for counteracting weather hazards and taking advantage of opportunities. For example, spring frosts are detrimental for many nut trees, resulting in dramatic losses at harvest time. To explore subseasonal forecast quality in boreal spring, identified as one of the most sensitive times of the year by agribusiness end users, we build a multisystem ensemble using four models involved in the Subseasonal to Seasonal Prediction project (S2S). Two-meter temperature forecasts are used to analyze cold spell predictions in the coastal Black Sea region, an area that is a global leader in the production of hazelnuts. When analyzed at the global scale, the multisystem ensemble probabilistic forecasts for near-surface temperature are better than climatological values for several regions, especially the tropics, even many weeks in advance; however, in the coastal Black Sea, skill is low after the second forecast week. When cold spells are predicted instead of near-surface temperatures, skill improves for the region, and the forecasts prove to contain potentially useful information to stakeholders willing to put mitigation plans into effect. Using a cost–loss model approach for the first time in this context, we show that there is added value of having such a forecast system instead of a business-as-usual strategy, not only for predictions released 1–2 weeks ahead of the extreme event, but also at longer lead times.

Open access
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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James Doss-Gollin, Ángel G. Muñoz, Simon J. Mason, and Max Pastén

Abstract

During the austral summer 2015/16, severe flooding displaced over 170 000 people on the Paraguay River system in Paraguay, Argentina, and southern Brazil. These floods were driven by repeated heavy rainfall events in the lower Paraguay River basin. Alternating sequences of enhanced moisture inflow from the South American low-level jet and local convergence associated with baroclinic systems were conducive to mesoscale convective activity and enhanced precipitation. These circulation patterns were favored by cross-time-scale interactions of a very strong El Niño event, an unusually persistent Madden–Julian oscillation in phases 4 and 5, and the presence of a dipole SST anomaly in the central southern Atlantic Ocean. The simultaneous use of seasonal and subseasonal heavy rainfall predictions could have provided decision-makers with useful information about the start of these flooding events from two to four weeks in advance. Probabilistic seasonal forecasts available at the beginning of November successfully indicated heightened probability of heavy rainfall (90th percentile) over southern Paraguay and Brazil for December–February. Raw subseasonal forecasts of heavy rainfall exhibited limited skill at lead times beyond the first two predicted weeks, but a model output statistics approach involving principal component regression substantially improved the spatial distribution of skill for week 3 relative to other methods tested, including extended logistic regressions. A continuous monitoring of climate drivers impacting rainfall in the region, and the use of statistically corrected heavy precipitation seasonal and subseasonal forecasts, may help improve flood preparedness in this and other regions.

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Katia Fernandes, Angel G. Muñoz, Julian Ramirez-Villegas, Diego Agudelo, Lizeth Llanos-Herrera, Alejandra Esquivel, Jeferson Rodriguez-Espinoza, and Steven D. Prager

Abstract

Canonical correlation analysis (CCA) is used to improve the skill of seasonal forecasts in the Orinoquía region, where over 40% of Colombian rice is produced. Seasonal precipitation and frequency of wet days are predicted, as rice yields simulated by a calibrated crop model are better correlated with wet-day frequency than with precipitation amounts in June–August (JJA). Prediction of the frequency of wet days, using as predictors variables from the NCEP Climate Forecast System, version 2 (CFSv2), results in a forecast with higher skill than models predicting seasonal precipitation amounts. Using wet-day frequency as an alternative climate variable reveals that the distribution of daily rainfall is both more relevant for rice yield variability and more skillfully predicted than seasonal precipitation amounts. Forecast skill can also be improved by using the Climate Hazards Infrared Precipitation with Stations (CHIRPS) merged satellite–station JJA precipitation as the predictand in a CCA model, especially if the predictor is CFSv2 vertically integrated meridional moisture flux (VQ). The probabilistic hindcast derived from the CCA model using CHIRPS as the predictand can successfully discriminate above-normal, normal, and below-normal terciles of over 80% of the stations in the region. This is particularly relevant for stations that, due to discontinuity in their time series, are not included in station-only CCA models but are still in need of probabilistic seasonal forecasts. Finally, CFSv2 VQ performs better than precipitation as the predictor in CCA, which we attribute to CFSv2 being more internally consistent in regards to sea surface temperature (SST)-forced VQ variability than to SST-forced precipitation variability in the Orinoquía region.

Open access
Ángel G. Muñoz, Patricio López, Ramón Velásquez, Luis Monterrey, Gloria León, Franklyn Ruiz, Cristina Recalde, Jaime Cadena, Raúl Mejía, Marcos Paredes, Juan Bazo, Carmen Reyes, Gualberto Carrasco, Yaruska Castellón, Claudia Villarroel, Juan Quintana, and Avel Urdaneta

An experimental Environmental Watch System, the so-called Observatorio Andino (OA), has been implemented in Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Chile over the past 2 yr. The OA is a collaborative and regional network that aims to monitor several environmental variables and develop accurate forecasts based on different scientific tools. Its overall goal is to improve risk assessments, set up early warning systems, support decision-making processes, and provide easily and intuitively understandable spatial maps to end users. The initiative works under the scientific and logistic coordination of the Centro de Modelado Científico (CMC) at Zulia University, Venezuela, and the Centro Internacional para la Investigación del Fenómeno “El Niño” (CIIFEN), and it is operated at a local level by the national weather services (NWSs) of the above-mentioned six Andean nations. The OA provides several freely available model outputs, including meteorological and hydrological forecasts, droughts, fire and flood indices, ecosystems dynamics, climate and health applications, and 5-day high-resolution oceanographic predictions for the eastern Pacific. This article briefly describes the current products, methodologies, and dynamical and statistical modeling outputs provided by the OA. Also, a discussion on how these sets of tools have been put together as a coordinated scientific watch and forecast system for each country and for the entire region is presented. Our experiences over the past 2 yr suggest that this initiative would significantly improve the current decision-making processes in Andean countries.

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