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Emily J. Becker
and
Ernesto Hugo Berbery

Abstract

The structure of the diurnal cycle of warm-season precipitation and its associated fields during the North American monsoon are examined for the core monsoon region and for the southwestern United States, using a diverse set of observations, analyses, and forecasts from the North American Monsoon Experiment field campaign of 2004. Included are rain gauge and satellite estimates of precipitation, Eta Model forecasts, and the North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR). Daily rain rates are of about the same magnitude in all datasets with the exception of the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) Morphing (CMORPH) technique, which exhibits markedly higher precipitation values.

The diurnal cycle of precipitation within the core region occurs earlier in the day at higher topographic elevations, evolving with a westward shift of the maximum. This shift appears in the observations, reanalysis, and, while less pronounced, in the model forecasts. Examination of some of the fields associated with this cycle, including convective available potential energy (CAPE), convective inhibition (CIN), and moisture flux convergence (MFC), reveals that the westward shift appears in all of them, but more prominently in the latter.

In general, warm-season precipitation in southern Arizona and parts of New Mexico shows a strong effect due to northward moisture surges from the Gulf of California. A reported positive bias in the NARR northward winds over the Gulf of California limits their use with confidence for studies of the moist surges along the Gulf; thus, the analysis is complemented with operational analysis and the Eta Model short-term simulations. The nonsurge diurnal cycle of precipitation lags the CAPE maximum by 6 h and is simultaneous with a minimum of CIN, while the moisture flux remains divergent throughout the day. During surges, CAPE and CIN have modifications only to the amplitude of their cycles, but the moisture flux becomes strongly convergent about 6 h before the precipitation maximum, suggesting a stronger role in the development of precipitation.

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Emily J. Becker
and
Michael K. Tippett

Abstract

The effect of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) teleconnection and climate change trends on observed North American wintertime daily 2-m temperature is investigated for 1960–2022 with a quantile regression model, which represents the variability of the full distribution of daily temperature, including extremes and changes in spread. Climate change trends are included as a predictor in the regression model to avoid the potentially confounding effect on ENSO teleconnections. Based on prior evidence of asymmetric impacts from El Niño and La Niña, the ENSO response is taken to be piecewise linear, and the regression model contains separate predictors for warm and cool ENSO. The relationship between these predictors and shifts in median, interquartile range, skewness, and kurtosis of daily 2-m temperature are summarized through Legendre polynomials. Warm ENSO conditions result in significant warming shifts in the median and contraction of the interquartile range in central-northern North America, while no opposite effect is found for cool ENSO conditions in this region. In the southern United States, cool ENSO conditions produce a warming shift in the median, while warm ENSO conditions have little impact on the median, but contracts the interquartile range. Climate change trends are present as a near-uniform warming in the median and across quantiles and have no discernable impact on interquartile range or higher-order moments. Trends and ENSO together explain a substantial fraction of the interannual variability of daily temperature distribution shifts across much of North America and, to a lesser extent, changes of the interquartile range.

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Kathy Pegion
,
Emily J. Becker
, and
Ben P. Kirtman

Abstract

We investigate the predictability of the sign of daily southeastern U.S. (SEUS) precipitation anomalies associated with simultaneous predictors of large-scale climate variability using machine learning models. Models using index-based climate predictors and gridded fields of large-scale circulation as predictors are utilized. Logistic regression (LR) and fully connected neural networks using indices of climate phenomena as predictors produce neither accurate nor reliable predictions, indicating that the indices themselves are not good predictors. Using gridded fields as predictors, an LR and convolutional neural network (CNN) are more accurate than the index-based models. However, only the CNN can produce reliable predictions that can be used to identify forecasts of opportunity. Using explainable machine learning we identify which variables and grid points of the input fields are most relevant for confident and correct predictions in the CNN. Our results show that the local circulation is most important as represented by maximum relevance of 850-hPa geopotential heights and zonal winds to making skillful, high-probability predictions. Corresponding composite anomalies identify connections with El Niño–Southern Oscillation during winter and the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation and North Atlantic subtropical high during summer.

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Emily J. Becker
,
Huug van den Dool
, and
Malaquias Peña
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Emily J. Becker
,
Ernesto Hugo Berbery
, and
R. Wayne Higgins

Abstract

This study examines the characteristics of cold-season (November–March) daily precipitation over the contiguous United States during active periods of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO). A large response in the precipitation rate anomaly is found over the eastern United States when MJO-related enhanced tropical convection is moving through the far western to central Pacific (conventionally known as phases 5, 6, and 7 of the MJO). Positive anomalies occur in the region of the eastern Mississippi River basin, and negative anomalies occur in the Southeast. The relative stability of this pattern throughout the three phases suggests that they can be considered together. During phases 5–7, the central United States has a daily precipitation rate between 110% and 150% of normal, while the precipitation rate over much of Florida is less than 70% of normal. Much of the lower Mississippi River basin region receives somewhat more frequent daily precipitation during MJO phases 5–7, but a greater increase is found in the daily precipitation intensity, suggesting more intense storms. On the other hand, Florida has substantially fewer daily precipitation events, with a smaller decrease in the intensity.

To understand the atmospheric mechanisms related to the above shifts in daily precipitation, elements of the atmospheric circulation were examined. Positive moisture flux convergence anomalies, which have been linked to increased precipitation rate and intensity, are found in the region of increased precipitation rate during MJO phases 5–7. During those phases, the North American jet stream is shifted northward, likely leading to a higher incidence of storms over the lower Mississippi River basin and fewer storms over Florida. This is supported by the fact that the storm track also shows increased activity over the central United States during MJO phases 5–7.

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Emily J. Becker
,
Ernesto Hugo Berbery
, and
R. Wayne Higgins

Abstract

This study examines the seasonal characteristics of daily precipitation over the United States using the North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR). To help understand the physical mechanisms that contribute to changes in the characteristics of daily precipitation, vertically integrated moisture flux convergence (MFC) and precipitable water were included in the study. First, an analysis of the NARR precipitation was carried out because while observed precipitation is indirectly assimilated in the system, differences exist. The NARR mean seasonal amount is very close to that of observations throughout the year, although NARR exhibits a slight systematic bias toward more-frequent, lighter precipitation. Particularly during summer, the precipitation intensity and the probability distribution function (PDF) indicate that NARR somewhat underestimates extremes and overestimates lighter events in the eastern half of the United States. The intensity and PDF of moisture flux convergence exhibit a strong similarity to those of precipitation, suggesting a link between strong MFC and precipitation extremes. On the other hand, the relationship between the precipitable water and precipitation PDFs is weaker, based on the lack of agreement of their gamma distribution parameters.

The dependence of the precipitation PDF on the lower-frequency modulation of ENSO was examined. During El Niño winters, the Southwest and central United States, Gulf of Mexico region, and southeastern coast have greater precipitation intensity and extremes than during La Niña, and the Ohio River and Red River basins have lower intensity and fewer extreme events. During summer, the northern Rocky Mountains receive higher intensity precipitation with more extreme events. Most areas where the change in the daily mean precipitation between ENSO phases is large have greater shifts in the extreme tail of the PDF. The ENSO-related response of moisture flux convergence is similar to that of precipitation. ENSO-related shifts in the precipitation PDF do not appear to have a strong relationship to the shifts in precipitable water.

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Emily J. Becker
,
Huug van den Dool
, and
Malaquias Peña

Abstract

Forecasts for extremes in short-term climate (monthly means) are examined to understand the current prediction capability and potential predictability. This study focuses on 2-m surface temperature and precipitation extremes over North and South America, and sea surface temperature extremes in the Niño-3.4 and Atlantic hurricane main development regions, using the Climate Forecast System (CFS) global climate model, for the period of 1982–2010. The primary skill measures employed are the anomaly correlation (AC) and root-mean-square error (RMSE). The success rate of forecasts is also assessed using contingency tables.

The AC, a signal-to-noise skill measure, is routinely higher for extremes in short-term climate than those when all forecasts are considered. While the RMSE for extremes also rises, especially when skill is inherently low, it is found that the signal rises faster than the noise. Permutation tests confirm that this is not simply an effect of reduced sample size. Both 2-m temperature and precipitation forecasts have higher anomaly correlations in the area of South America than North America; credible skill in precipitation is very low over South America and absent over North America, even for extremes. Anomaly correlations for SST are very high in the Niño-3.4 region, especially for extremes, and moderate to high in the Atlantic hurricane main development region. Prediction skill for forecast extremes is similar to skill for observed extremes. Assessment of the potential predictability under perfect-model assumptions shows that predictability and prediction skill have very similar space–time dependence. While prediction skill is higher in CFS version 2 than in CFS version 1, the potential predictability is not.

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Michelle L. L’Heureux
,
Michael K. Tippett
, and
Emily J. Becker

Abstract

The relation between the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and California precipitation has been studied extensively and plays a prominent role in seasonal forecasting. However, a wide range of precipitation outcomes on seasonal time scales are possible, even during extreme ENSO states. Here, we investigate prediction skill and its origins on subseasonal time scales. Model predictions of California precipitation are examined using Subseasonal Experiment (SubX) reforecasts for the period 1999–2016, focusing on those from the Flow-Following Icosahedral Model (FIM). Two potential sources of subseasonal predictability are examined: the tropical Pacific Ocean and upper-level zonal winds near California. In both observations and forecasts, the Niño-3.4 index exhibits a weak and insignificant relationship with daily to monthly averages of California precipitation. Likewise, model tropical sea surface temperature and outgoing longwave radiation show only minimal relations with California precipitation forecasts, providing no evidence that flavors of El Niño or tropical modes substantially contribute to the success or failure of subseasonal forecasts. On the other hand, an index for upper-level zonal winds is strongly correlated with precipitation in observations and forecasts, across averaging windows and lead times. The wind index is related to ENSO, but the correlation between the wind index and precipitation remains even after accounting for ENSO phase. Intriguingly, the Niño-3.4 index and California precipitation show a slight but robust negative statistical relation after accounting for the wind index.

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Sarah Strazzo
,
Dan C. Collins
,
Andrew Schepen
,
Q. J. Wang
,
Emily Becker
, and
Liwei Jia

Abstract

Recent research demonstrates that dynamical models sometimes fail to represent observed teleconnection patterns associated with predictable modes of climate variability. As a result, model forecast skill may be reduced. We address this gap in skill through the application of a Bayesian postprocessing technique—the calibration, bridging, and merging (CBaM) method—which previously has been shown to improve probabilistic seasonal forecast skill over Australia. Calibration models developed from dynamical model reforecasts and observations are employed to statistically correct dynamical model forecasts. Bridging models use dynamical model forecasts of relevant climate modes (e.g., ENSO) as predictors of remote temperature and precipitation. Bridging and calibration models are first developed separately using Bayesian joint probability modeling and then merged using Bayesian model averaging to yield an optimal forecast. We apply CBaM to seasonal forecasts of North American 2-m temperature and precipitation from the North American Multimodel Ensemble (NMME) hindcast. Bridging is done using the model-predicted Niño-3.4 index. Overall, the fully merged CBaM forecasts achieve higher Brier skill scores and better reliability compared to raw NMME forecasts. Bridging enhances forecast skill for individual NMME member model forecasts of temperature, but does not result in significant improvements in precipitation forecast skill, possibly because the models of the NMME better represent the ENSO–precipitation teleconnection pattern compared to the ENSO–temperature pattern. These results demonstrate the potential utility of the CBaM method to improve seasonal forecast skill over North America.

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Emily J. Becker
,
Ben P. Kirtman
,
Michelle L’Heureux
,
Ángel G. Muñoz
, and
Kathy Pegion

Abstract

Ten years, 16 fully coupled global models, and hundreds of research papers later, the North American Multimodel Ensemble (NMME) monthly-to-seasonal prediction system is looking ahead to its second decade. The NMME comprises both real-time, initialized predictions and a substantial research database; both retrospective and real-time forecasts are archived and freely available for research and development. Many U.S.-based and international entities, both private and public, use NMME data for regional or otherwise tailored forecasts. The system’s built-in evolution, with new models gradually replacing older ones, has been demonstrated to gradually improve the skill of 2-m temperature and sea surface temperature, although precipitation prediction remains a difficult problem. This paper reviews some of the NMME-based contributions to seasonal climate prediction research and applications, progress on scientific understanding of seasonal prediction and multimodel ensembles, and new techniques. Several prediction-oriented aspects are explored, including model representation of observed trends and the underprediction of below-average temperature. We discuss potential new directions, such as higher-resolution models, hybrid statistical–dynamical techniques, or prediction of environmental hazards such as coastal flooding and the risk of mosquito-borne diseases.

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