Publications associated with Predictability of Weather and Climate

Assessing the robustness of multidecadal variability in Northern Hemisphere wintertime seasonal forecast skill

Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society Wiley 146 (2020) qj.3890

CH O'Reilly, A Weisheimer, D MacLeod, DJ Befort, T Palmer

Recent studies have found evidence of multidecadal variability in northern hemisphere wintertime seasonal forecast skill. Here we assess the robustness of this finding by extending the analysis to analysing a diverse set of ensemble atmospheric model simulations. These simulations differ in either numerical model or type of initialisation and include atmospheric model experiments initialised with reanalysis data and free‐running atmospheric model ensembles. All ensembles are forced with observed SST and seaice boundary conditions. Analysis of large‐scale Northern Hemisphere circulation indicesover the Northern Hemisphere (namely the North Atlantic Oscillation, Pacific North American pattern and the Arctic Oscillation) reveals that in all ensembles there is larger correlation skill in the late century periods than during periods in the mid‐century. Similar multidecadal variability in skill is found in a measure of total skill integrated over the whole of the extratropics. Most of the differences in large‐scale circulation skill between the skillful late period (as well as early period) and the less skillful mid‐century period seem to be due to a reduction in skill over the North Pacific and a disappearance in skill over North America and the North Atlantic. The results are robust across different models and different types of initialisation, indicating that the multidecadal variability in Northern Hemisphere winter skill is a robust feature of 20th century climate variability. Multidecadal variability in skill therefore arises from the evolution of the observed SSTs, likely related to a weakened influence of ENSO on the predictable extratropical circulation signal during the middle of the 20th century, and is evident in the signal‐to‐noise ratio of the different ensembles, particularly the larger ensembles.

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