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Equatorial Waves and the Skill of NCEP and ECMWF Numerical Weather Prediction Systems
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    Monthly Weather Review, 146(6), 1763-1784.
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Equatorial Waves and the Skill of NCEP and ECMWF Numerical Weather Prediction Systems
  • Description:
    Despite decades of research on the role of moist convective processes in large-scale tropical dynamics, tropical forecast skill in operational models is still deficient when compared to the extratropics, even at short lead times. Here we compare tropical and Northern Hemisphere (NH) forecast skill for quantitative precipitation forecasts (QPFs) in the NCEP Global Forecast System (GFS) and ECMWF Integrated Forecast System (IFS) during January 2015-March 2016. Results reveal that, in general, initial conditions are reasonably well estimated in both forecast systems, as indicated by relatively good skill scores for the 6-24-h forecasts. However, overall, tropical QPF forecasts in both systems are not considered useful by typical metrics much beyond 4 days. To quantify the relationship between QPF and dynamical skill, space-time spectra and coherence of rainfall and divergence fields are calculated. It is shown that while tropical variability is too weak in both models, the IFS is more skillful in propagating tropical waves for longer lead times. In agreement with past studies demonstrating that extratropical skill is partially drawn from the tropics, a comparison of daily skill in the tropics versus NH suggests that in both models NH forecast skill at lead times beyond day 3 is enhanced by tropical skill in the first couple of days. As shown in previous work, this study indicates that the differences in physics used in each system, in particular, how moist convective processes are coupled to the large-scale flow through these parameterizations, appear as a major source of tropical forecast errors.
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