The emergence of zonal ocean jets under large-scale stochastic wind forcing

Geophysical Research Letters American Geophysical Union (AGU) 39 (2012) n/a-n/a

CH O'Reilly, A Czaja, JH LaCasce

Reliability of decadal predictions

Geophysical Research Letters 39 (2012)

S Corti, A Weisheimer, TN Palmer, FJ Doblas-Reyes, L Magnusson

The reliability of multi-year predictions of climate is assessed using probabilistic Attributes Diagrams for near-surface air temperature and sea surface temperature, based on 54 member ensembles of initialised decadal hindcasts using the ECMWF coupled model. It is shown that the reliability from the ensemble system is good over global land areas, Europe and Africa and for the North Atlantic, Indian Ocean and, to a lesser extent, North Pacific basins for lead times up to 6-9years. North Atlantic SSTs are reliably predicted even when the climate trend is removed, consistent with the known predictability for this region. By contrast, reliability in the Indian Ocean, where external forcing accounts for most of the variability, deteriorates severely after detrending. More conventional measures of forecast quality, such as the anomaly correlation coefficient (ACC) of the ensemble mean, are also considered, showing that the ensemble has significant skill in predicting multi-annual temperature averages. © 2012. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.

Towards the probabilistic Earth-system simulator: A vision for the future of climate and weather prediction

Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society 138 (2012) 841-861

TN Palmer

There is no more challenging problem in computational science than that of estimating, as accurately as science and technology allows, the future evolution of Earth's climate; nor indeed is there a problem whose solution has such importance and urgency. Historically, the simulation tools needed to predict climate have been developed, somewhat independently, at a number of weather and climate institutes around the world. While these simulators are individually deterministic, it is often assumed that the resulting diversity provides a useful quantification of uncertainty in global or regional predictions. However, this notion is not well founded theoretically and corresponding 'multi-simulator' estimates of uncertainty can be prone to systemic failure. Separate to this, individual institutes are now facing considerable challenges in finding the human and computational resources needed to develop more accurate weather and climate simulators with higher resolution and full Earth-system complexity. A new approach, originally designed to improve reliability in ensemble-based numerical weather prediction, is introduced to help solve these two rather different problems. Using stochastic mathematics, this approach recognizes uncertainty explicitly in the parametrized representation of unresolved climatic processes. Stochastic parametrization is shown to be more consistent with the underlying equations of motion and, moreover, provides more skilful estimates of uncertainty when compared with estimates from traditional multi-simulator ensembles, on time-scales where verification data exist. Stochastic parametrization can also help reduce long-term biases which have bedevilled numerical simulations of climate from the earliest days to the present. As a result, it is suggested that the need to maintain a large 'gene pool' of quasi-independent deterministic simulators may be obviated by the development of probabilistic Earth-system simulators. Consistent with the conclusions of the World Summit on Climate Modelling, this in turn implies that individual institutes will be able to pool human and computational resources in developing future-generation simulators, thus benefitting from economies of scale; the establishment of the Airbus consortium provides a useful analogy here. As a further stimulus for such evolution, discussion is given to a potential new synergy between the development of dynamical cores, and stochastic processing hardware. However, it is concluded that the traditional challenge in numerical weather prediction, of reducing deterministic measures of forecast error, may increasingly become an obstacle to the seamless development of probabilistic weather and climate simulators, paradoxical as that may appear at first sight. Indeed, going further, it is argued that it may be time to consider focusing operational weather forecast development entirely on high-resolution ensemble prediction systems. Finally, by considering the exceptionally challenging problem of quantifying cloud feedback in climate change, it is argued that the development of the probabilistic Earth-system simulator may actually provide a route to reducing uncertainty in climate prediction. © 2012 Royal Meteorological Society.

Comparing TIGGE multimodel forecasts with reforecast-calibrated ECMWF ensemble forecasts

Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society (2012)

R Hagedorn, R Buizza, TM Hamill, M Leutbecher, TN Palmer

Systematic Model Error: The Impact of Increased Horizontal Resolution versus Improved Stochastic and Deterministic Parameterizations

JOURNAL OF CLIMATE 25 (2012) 4946-4962

J Berner, T Jung, TN Palmer



TN Palmer

The Intra-Seasonal Oscillation and its control of tropical cyclones simulated by high-resolution global atmospheric models

CLIMATE DYNAMICS 39 (2012) 2185-2206

M Satoh, K Oouchi, T Nasuno, H Taniguchi, Y Yamada, H Tomita, C Kodama, J Kinter, D Achuthavarier, J Manganello, B Cash, T Jung, T Palmer, N Wedi

Towards the probabilistic Earth-system simulator: A vision for the future of climate and weather prediction

Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society (2012)

TN Palmer

Simulating regime structures in weather and climate prediction models

Geophysical Research Letters 39 (2012) L21805

A Dawson, TN Palmer, S Corti

High-Resolution Global Climate Simulations with the ECMWF Model in Project Athena: Experimental Design, Model Climate, and Seasonal Forecast Skill

JOURNAL OF CLIMATE 25 (2012) 3155-3172

T Jung, MJ Miller, TN Palmer, P Towers, N Wedi, D Achuthavarier, JM Adams, EL Altshuler, BA Cash, KJL III, L Marx, C Stan, KI Hodges

Useful decadal climate prediction at regional scales? A look at the ENSEMBLES stream 2 decadal hindcasts

Environmental Research Letters 7 (2012)

DA MacLeod, C Caminade, AP Morse

Decadal climate prediction is a branch of climate modelling with the theoretical potential to anticipate climate impacts years in advance. Here we present analysis of the ENSEMBLES decadal simulations, the first multi-model decadal hindcasts, focusing on the skill in prediction of temperature and precipitation - important for impact prediction. Whilst previous work on this dataset has focused on the skill in multi-year averages, we focus here on the skill in prediction at smaller timescales. Considering annual and seasonal averages, we look at correlations, potential predictability and multi-year trend correlations. The results suggest that the prediction skill for temperature comes from the long-term trend, and that precipitation predictions are not skilful. The potential predictability of the models is higher for annual than for seasonal means and is largest over the tropics, though it is low everywhere else and is much lower for precipitation than for temperature. The globally averaged temperature trend correlation is significant at the 99% level for all models and is higher for annual than for seasonal averages; however, for smaller spatial regions the skill is lower. For precipitation trends, the correlations are not skilful on either annual or seasonal scales. Whilst climate models run in decadal prediction mode may be useful by other means, the hindcasts studied here have limited predictive power on the scales at which climate impacts and the results presented suggest that they do not yet have sufficient skill to drive impact models on decadal timescales. © 2012 IOP Publishing Ltd.

ECMWF seasonal forecast system 3 and its prediction of sea surface temperature

CLIMATE DYNAMICS 37 (2011) 455-471

TN Stockdale, DLT Anderson, MA Balmaseda, F Doblas-Reyes, L Ferranti, K Mogensen, TN Palmer, F Molteni, F Vitart

Assessment of representations of model uncertainty in monthly and seasonal forecast ensembles

Geophysical Research Letters 38 (2011)

A Weisheimer, TN Palmer, FJ Doblas-Reyes

The probabilistic skill of ensemble forecasts for the first month and the first season of the forecasts is assessed, where model uncertainty is represented by the a) multi-model, b) perturbed parameters, and c) stochastic parameterisation ensembles. The main foci of the assessment are the Brier Skill Score for near-surface temperature and precipitation over land areas and the spread-skill relationship of sea surface temperature in the tropical equatorial Pacific. On the monthly timescale, the ensemble forecast system with stochastic parameterisation provides overall the most skilful probabilistic forecasts. On the seasonal timescale the results depend on the variable under study: for near surface temperature the multi-model ensemble is most skilful for most land regions and for global land areas. For precipitation, the ensemble with stochastic parameterisation most often produces the highest scores on global and regional scales. Our results indicate that stochastic parameterisations should now be developed for multi-decadal climate predictions using earth-system models. Copyright 2011 by the American Geophysical Union.

Decadal climate prediction with the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts coupled forecast system: Impact of ocean observations


FJ Doblas-Reyes, MA Balmaseda, A Weisheimer, TN Palmer

Uncertainty in weather and climate prediction

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 369 (2011) 4751-4767

J Slingo, T Palmer

Following Lorenz's seminal work on chaos theory in the 1960s, probabilistic approaches to prediction have come to dominate the science of weather and climate forecasting. This paper gives a perspective on Lorenz's work and how it has influenced the ways in which we seek to represent uncertainty in forecasts on all lead times from hours to decades. It looks at how model uncertainty has been represented in probabilistic prediction systems and considers the challenges posed by a changing climate. Finally, the paper considers how the uncertainty in projections of climate change can be addressed to deliver more reliable and confident assessments that support decision-making on adaptation and mitigation. This journal is © 2011 The Royal Society.

Assessment of representations of model uncertainty in monthly and seasonal forecast ensembles


A Weisheimer, TN Palmer, FJ Doblas-Reyes

Diagnosing the causes of bias in climate models - why is it so hard?

Geophysical and Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics 105 (2011) 351-365

TN Palmer, A Weisheimer

The equations of climate are, in principle, known. Why then is it so hard to formulate a biasfree model of climate? Here, some ideas in nonlinear dynamics are explored to try to answer this question. Specifically it is suggested that the climatic response to physically different forcings shows a tendency to project onto structures corresponding to the systems natural internal modes of variability. This is shown using results from complex climate models and from the relatively simple Lorenz three-component model. It is suggested that this behaviour is consistent with what might be expected from the fluctuation-dissipation theorem. Based on this, it is easy to see how climate models can easily suffer from having errors in the representation of two or more different physical processes, whose responses compensate one another and hence make individual error diagnosis difficult. A proposal is made to try to overcome these problems and advance the science needed to develop a bias-free climate model. The proposal utilises powerful diagnostics from data assimilation. The key point here is that these diagnostics derive from short-range forecast tendencies, estimated long before the model has asymptotically settled down to its (biased) climate attractor. However, it is shown that these diagnostics will not identify all sources of model error, and a so-called "bias of the second kind" is discussed. This latter bias may be alleviated by recently developed stochastic parametrisations. © 2011 Taylor & Francis.

Accuracy of climate change predictions using high resolution simulations as surrogates of truth

Geophysical Research Letters 38 (2011)

M Matsueda, TN Palmer

How accurate are predictions of climate change from a model which is biased against contemporary observations? If a model bias can be thought of as a state-independent linear offset, then the signal of climate change derived from a biased climate model should not be affected substantially by that model's bias. By contrast, if the processes which cause model bias are highly nonlinear, we could expect the accuracy of the climate change signal to degrade with increasing bias. Since we do not yet know the late 21st Century climate change signal, we cannot say at this stage which of these two paradigms describes best the role of model bias in studies of climate change. We therefore study this question using time-slice projections from a global climate model run at two resolutions - a resolution typical of contemporary climate models and a resolution typical of contemporary numerical weather prediction - and treat the high-resolution model as a surrogate of truth, for both 20th and 21st Century climate. We find that magnitude of the regionally varying model bias is a partial predictor of the accuracy of the regional climate change signal for both wind and precipitation. This relationship is particularly apparent for the 850 mb wind climate change signal. Our analysis lends some support to efforts to weight multi-model ensembles of climate change according to 20th Century bias, though note that the optimal weighting appears to be a nonlinear function of bias. Copyright © 2011 by the American Geophysical Union.

On the predictability of the extreme summer 2003 over Europe

Geophysical Research Letters 38 (2011)

A Weisheimer, FJ Doblas-Reyes, T Jung, TN Palmer

The European summer 2003 is a prominent example for an extreme hot and dry season. The main mechanisms that contributed to the growth of the heat wave are still disputed and state-of-the-art climate models have difficulty to realistically simulate the extreme conditions. Here we analyse simulations using recent versions of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts seasonal ensemble forecasting system and present, for the first time, retrospective forecasts which simulate accurately not only the abnormal warmth but also the observed precipitation and mid-tropospheric circulation patterns. It is found that while the land surface hydrology plays a crucial role, the successful simulations also required revised formulations of the radiative and convective parameterizations. We conclude that the predictability of the event was less due to remote teleconnections effects and more due to in situ processes which helped maintain the dry surface anomalies occurring at the beginning of the summer. Copyright 2011 by the American Geophysical Union.

Handling uncertainty in science.

Philos Trans A Math Phys Eng Sci 369 (2011) 4681-4684

TN Palmer, PJ Hardaker