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F. Vitart and J. L. Anderson

Abstract

A significant reduction (increase) of tropical storm activity over the Atlantic basin is observed during El Niño (La Niña) events. Furthermore, the number of Atlantic tropical storms displays an interdecadal variability with more storms in the 1950s and 1960s than in the 1970s and 1980s. Ensembles of simulations with an atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM) are used to explore the mechanisms responsible for this observed variability.

The interannual variability is investigated using a 10-member ensemble of AGCM simulations forced by climatological SSTs of the 1980s everywhere except over the tropical Pacific and Indian Oceans. Significantly fewer tropical storms are simulated with El Niño SSTs imposed over the tropical Pacific and Indian Oceans than with La Niña conditions. Increased simulated vertical wind shear over the Atlantic is the most likely explanation for the reduction of simulated tropical storms during El Niño years. SST forcing from different El Niño events has distinct impacts on Atlantic tropical storms in the simulation: simulated tropical storms are significantly less numerous with 1982 SSTs imposed over the tropical Pacific and Indian Oceans than with 1986 SSTs.

The interdecadal variability of tropical storm activity seems to coincide with an interdecadal variability of the North Atlantic SSTs with colder SSTs in the 1970s than in the 1950s. Ensembles of AGCM simulations produce significantly more tropical storms when forced by observed SSTs of the 1950s than when forced by SSTs of the 1970s. This supports the theory that the interdecadal variability of SSTs has a significant impact on the expected number of Atlantic tropical storms and suggests that Atlantic tropical storms may be more numerous in coming years if North Atlantic SSTs are getting warmer. A significant increase of vertical wind shear and a significant decrease in the convective available potential energy over the tropical Atlantic in the 1970s may explain the simulated interdecadal variability of Atlantic tropical storms.

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F. Vitart, J. L. Anderson, and W. F. Stern

Abstract

The present study examines the simulation of the number of tropical storms produced in GCM integrations with a prescribed SST. A 9-member ensemble of 10-yr integrations (1979–88) of a T42 atmospheric model forced by observed SSTs has been produced; each ensemble member differs only in the initial atmospheric conditions. An objective procedure for tracking-model-generated tropical storms is applied to this ensemble during the last 9 yr of the integrations (1980–88). The seasonal and monthly variations of tropical storm numbers are compared with observations for each ocean basin.

Statistical tools such as the Chi-square test, the F test, and the t test are applied to the ensemble number of tropical storms, leading to the conclusion that the potential predictability is particularly strong over the western North Pacific and the eastern North Pacific, and to a lesser extent over the western North Atlantic. A set of tools including the joint probability distribution and the ranked probability score are used to evaluate the simulation skill of this ensemble simulation. The simulation skill over the western North Atlantic basin appears to be exceptionally high, particularly during years of strong potential predictability.

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F. Vitart, J. L. Anderson, and W. F. Stern

Abstract

Tropical storms simulated by a nine-member ensemble of GCM integrations forced by observed SSTs have been tracked by an objective procedure for the period 1980–88. Statistics on tropical storm frequency, intensity, and first location have been produced. Statistical tools such as the chi-square and the Kolmogorov–Smirnov test indicate that there is significant potential predictability of interannual variability of simulated tropical storm frequency, intensity, and first location over most of the ocean basins. The only common point between the nine members of the ensemble is the SST forcing. This implies that SSTs play a fundamental role in model tropical storm frequency, intensity, and first location interannual variability. Although the interannual variability of tropical storm statistics is clearly affected by SST forcing in the GCM, there is also a considerable amount of noise related to internal variability of the model. An ensemble of atmospheric model simulations allows one to filter this noise and gain a better understanding of the mechanisms leading to interannual tropical storm variability.

An EOF analysis of local SSTs over each ocean basin and a combined EOF analysis of vertical wind shear, 850-mb vorticity, and 200-mb vorticity have been performed. Over some ocean basins such as the western North Atlantic, the interannual frequency of simulated tropical storms is highly correlated to the first combined EOF, but it is not significantly correlated to the first EOF of local SSTs. This suggests that over these basins the SSTs have an impact on the simulated tropical storm statistics from a remote area through the large-scale circulation as in observations. Simulated and observed tropical storm statistics have been compared. The interannual variability of simulated tropical storm statistics is consistent with observations over the ocean basins where the model simulates a realistic interannual variability of the large-scale circulation.

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C. D. Roberts, F. Vitart, M. A. Balmaseda, and F. Molteni

Abstract

This study uses initialized forecasts and climate integrations to evaluate the wintertime North Atlantic response to an increase of ocean model resolution from ~100 km [low-resolution ocean (LRO)] to ~25 km [high-resolution ocean (HRO)] in the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts Integrated Forecasting System (ECMWF-IFS). Importantly, the simulated impacts are time-scale dependent such that impacts in subseasonal and seasonal forecasts cannot be extrapolated to climate time scales. In general, mean biases are reduced in HRO relative to LRO configurations and the impact is increased at longer lead times. At subseasonal to seasonal lead times, surface heating anomalies over the Gulf Stream are associated with local increases to the poleward heat flux associated with transient atmospheric eddies. In contrast, surface heating anomalies in climate experiments are balanced by changes to the time-mean surface winds that resemble the steady response under linear dynamics. Some aspects of air–sea interaction exhibit a clear improvement with increased resolution at all lead times. However, it is difficult to identify the impact of increased ocean eddy activity in the variability of the overlying atmosphere. In particular, atmospheric blocking and the intensity of the storm track respond more strongly to mean biases and thus have a larger response at longer lead times. Finally, increased ocean resolution drives improvements to subseasonal predictability over Europe. This increase in skill seems to be a result of improvements to the Madden–Julian oscillation and its associated teleconnections rather than changes to air–sea interaction in the North Atlantic region.

Open access
Michael J. DeFlorio, Duane E. Waliser, Bin Guan, David A. Lavers, F. Martin Ralph, and Frédéric Vitart

Abstract

Atmospheric rivers (ARs) are global phenomena that transport water vapor horizontally and are associated with hydrological extremes. In this study, the Atmospheric River Skill (ATRISK) algorithm is introduced, which quantifies AR prediction skill in an object-based framework using Subseasonal to Seasonal (S2S) Project global hindcast data from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) model. The dependence of AR forecast skill is globally characterized by season, lead time, and distance between observed and forecasted ARs. Mean values of daily AR prediction skill saturate around 7–10 days, and seasonal variations are highest over the Northern Hemispheric ocean basins, where AR prediction skill increases by 15%–20% at a 7-day lead during boreal winter relative to boreal summer. AR hit and false alarm rates are explicitly considered using relative operating characteristic (ROC) curves. This analysis reveals that AR forecast utility increases at 10-day lead over the North Pacific/western U.S. region during positive El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions and at 7- and 10-day leads over the North Atlantic/U.K. region during negative Arctic Oscillation (AO) conditions and decreases at a 10-day lead over the North Pacific/western U.S. region during negative Pacific–North America (PNA) teleconnection conditions. Exceptionally large increases in AR forecast utility are found over the North Pacific/western United States at a 10-day lead during El Niño + positive PNA conditions and over the North Atlantic/United Kingdom at a 7-day lead during La Niña + negative PNA conditions. These results represent the first global assessment of AR prediction skill and highlight climate variability conditions that modulate regional AR forecast skill.

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L. Magnusson, J.-R. Bidlot, M. Bonavita, A. R. Brown, P. A. Browne, G. De Chiara, M. Dahoui, S. T. K. Lang, T. McNally, K. S. Mogensen, F. Pappenberger, F. Prates, F. Rabier, D. S. Richardson, F. Vitart, and S. Malardel

Abstract

Tropical cyclones are some of the most devastating natural hazards and the “three beasts”—Harvey, Irma, and Maria—during the Atlantic hurricane season 2017 are recent examples. The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) is working on fulfilling its 2016–25 strategy in which early warnings for extreme events will be made possible by a high-resolution Earth system ensemble forecasting system. Several verification reports acknowledge deterministic and probabilistic tropical cyclone tracks from ECMWF as world leading. However, producing reliable intensity forecasts is still a difficult task for the ECMWF global forecasting model, especially regarding maximum wind speed. This article will put the ECMWF strategy into a tropical cyclone perspective and highlight some key research activities, using Harvey, Irma, and Maria as examples. We describe the observation usage around tropical cyclones in data assimilation and give examples of their impact. From a model perspective, we show the impact of running at 5-km resolution and also the impact of applying ocean coupling. Finally, we discuss the future challenges to tackle the errors in intensity forecasts for tropical cyclones.

Open access
J. Gottschalck, M. Wheeler, K. Weickmann, F. Vitart, N. Savage, H. Lin, H. Hendon, D. Waliser, K. Sperber, M. Nakagawa, C. Prestrelo, M. Flatau, and W. Higgins

The U.S. Climate Variability and Predictability (CLIVAR) MJO Working Group (MJOWG) has taken steps to promote the adoption of a uniform diagnostic and set of skill metrics for analyzing and assessing dynamical forecasts of the MJO. Here we describe the framework and initial implementation of the approach using real-time forecast data from multiple operational numerical weather prediction (NWP) centers. The objectives of this activity are to provide a means to i) quantitatively compare skill of MJO forecasts across operational centers, ii) measure gains in forecast skill over time by a given center and the community as a whole, and iii) facilitate the development of a multimodel forecast of the MJO. The MJO diagnostic is based on extensive deliberations among the MJOWG in conjunction with input from a number of operational centers and makes use of the MJO index of Wheeler and Hendon. This forecast activity has been endorsed by the Working Group on Numerical Experimentation (WGNE), the international body that fosters the development of atmospheric models for NWP and climate studies.

The Climate Prediction Center (CPC) within the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) is hosting the acquisition of the forecast data, application of the MJO diagnostic, and real-time display of the standardized forecasts. The activity has contributed to the production of 1–2-week operational outlooks at NCEP and activities at other centers. Further enhancements of the diagnostic's implementation, including more extensive analysis, comparison, illustration, and verification of the contributions from the participating centers, will increase the usefulness and application of these forecasts and potentially lead to more skillful predictions of the MJO and indirectly extratropical and other weather variability (e.g., tropical cyclones) influenced by the MJO. The purpose of this article is to inform the larger scientific and operational forecast communities of the MJOWG forecast effort and invite participation from additional operational centers.

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R. D. Koster, S. P. P. Mahanama, T. J. Yamada, Gianpaolo Balsamo, A. A. Berg, M. Boisserie, P. A. Dirmeyer, F. J. Doblas-Reyes, G. Drewitt, C. T. Gordon, Z. Guo, J.-H. Jeong, W.-S. Lee, Z. Li, L. Luo, S. Malyshev, W. J. Merryfield, S. I. Seneviratne, T. Stanelle, B. J. J. M. van den Hurk, F. Vitart, and E. F. Wood

Abstract

The second phase of the Global Land–Atmosphere Coupling Experiment (GLACE-2) is a multi-institutional numerical modeling experiment focused on quantifying, for boreal summer, the subseasonal (out to two months) forecast skill for precipitation and air temperature that can be derived from the realistic initialization of land surface states, notably soil moisture. An overview of the experiment and model behavior at the global scale is described here, along with a determination and characterization of multimodel “consensus” skill. The models show modest but significant skill in predicting air temperatures, especially where the rain gauge network is dense. Given that precipitation is the chief driver of soil moisture, and thereby assuming that rain gauge density is a reasonable proxy for the adequacy of the observational network contributing to soil moisture initialization, this result indeed highlights the potential contribution of enhanced observations to prediction. Land-derived precipitation forecast skill is much weaker than that for air temperature. The skill for predicting air temperature, and to some extent precipitation, increases with the magnitude of the initial soil moisture anomaly. GLACE-2 results are examined further to provide insight into the asymmetric impacts of wet and dry soil moisture initialization on skill.

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Vitart F, A.W. Robertson, A. Spring, F. Pinault, R. Roskar, W. Cao, S. Bech, A. Bienkowski, N. Caltabiano, E. De Coning, B. Denis, A. Dirkson, J. Dramsch, P. Dueben, J. Gierschendorf, H. S. Kim, K. Nowak, D. Landry, L. Lledó, L. Palma, S. Rasp, and S. Zhou

Abstract

There is a high demand and expectation for sub-seasonal to seasonal (S2S) prediction which provides forecasts beyond 2 weeks, but less than 3 months ahead. To assess the potential benefit of artificial intelligence (AI) methods for S2S prediction through better postprocessing of ensemble prediction system outputs, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) coordinated a prize challenge in 2021 to improve sub-seasonal prediction. The goal of this competition was to produce the most skillful forecasts of precipitation and two-meter temperature globally averaged over forecast weeks 3 and 4, and weeks 5 and 6 for the year 2020 using artificial intelligence techniques. The top three submissions, described in this article, succeeded in producing S2S forecasts significantly more skillful than the bias-corrected ECMWF operational reference forecasts, particularly for precipitation, through improved calibration of the ECMWF raw forecast outputs or multi-model combination. These forecast improvements should benefit the use of S2S forecasts in applications.

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F. Vitart, C. Ardilouze, A. Bonet, A. Brookshaw, M. Chen, C. Codorean, M. Déqué, L. Ferranti, E. Fucile, M. Fuentes, H. Hendon, J. Hodgson, H.-S. Kang, A. Kumar, H. Lin, G. Liu, X. Liu, P. Malguzzi, I. Mallas, M. Manoussakis, D. Mastrangelo, C. MacLachlan, P. McLean, A. Minami, R. Mladek, T. Nakazawa, S. Najm, Y. Nie, M. Rixen, A. W. Robertson, P. Ruti, C. Sun, Y. Takaya, M. Tolstykh, F. Venuti, D. Waliser, S. Woolnough, T. Wu, D.-J. Won, H. Xiao, R. Zaripov, and L. Zhang

Abstract

Demands are growing rapidly in the operational prediction and applications communities for forecasts that fill the gap between medium-range weather and long-range or seasonal forecasts. Based on the potential for improved forecast skill at the subseasonal to seasonal time range, the Subseasonal to Seasonal (S2S) Prediction research project has been established by the World Weather Research Programme/World Climate Research Programme. A main deliverable of this project is the establishment of an extensive database containing subseasonal (up to 60 days) forecasts, 3 weeks behind real time, and reforecasts from 11 operational centers, modeled in part on the The Observing System Research and Predictability Experiment (THORPEX) Interactive Grand Global Ensemble (TIGGE) database for medium-range forecasts (up to 15 days).

The S2S database, available to the research community since May 2015, represents an important tool to advance our understanding of the subseasonal to seasonal time range that has been considered for a long time as a “desert of predictability.” In particular, this database will help identify common successes and shortcomings in the model simulation and prediction of sources of subseasonal to seasonal predictability. For instance, a preliminary study suggests that the S2S models significantly underestimate the amplitude of the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) teleconnections over the Euro-Atlantic sector. The S2S database also represents an important tool for case studies of extreme events. For instance, a multimodel combination of S2S models displays higher probability of a landfall over the islands of Vanuatu 2–3 weeks before Tropical Cyclone Pam devastated the islands in March 2015.

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