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Laura Zamboni, Carlos R. Mechoso, and Fred Kucharski

Abstract

The existence of a significant simultaneous correlation between bimonthly mean precipitation anomalies over southeastern South America (SESA) and either the first or the second (depending on season) leading mode of interannual variability of upper-level wind over South America (SA) is demonstrated during all seasons except winter. The pattern associated with these modes of variability is similar during all seasons and consists of a continental-scale vortex centered over the eastern coast of subtropical SA. The vortex has a quasi-barotropic structure during all seasons, and its variability modifies moisture transport from the South American low-level jet and the western tropical Atlantic to SESA thus creating precipitation anomalies in this region. During spring (October–November) and summer (January–February) the circulation creates a second center of precipitation anomalies over the South Atlantic convergence zone that are of opposite sign to those over SESA, while during fall (April–May) precipitation anomalies are primarily confined to SESA. On the basis of the correlation between upper-level winds and precipitation, an empirical method to produce long-range forecasts of bimonthly mean precipitation over SESA is developed. Method tests in hindcast mode for the period 1959–2001 show a potential for reliable predictions during the southern spring, summer, and fall. The method is further tested in an experimental mode by using Development of a European Multimodel Ensemble System for Seasonal-to-Interannual Prediction (DEMETER) wind hindcasts. Forecasts obtained in this way are skillful during spring only, with highest skill during El Niño–Southern Oscillation years. During summer and fall, the DEMETER forecasts of wind anomalies limit the method’s ability to make reliable real predictions.

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