Are we near the predictability limit of tropical Indo‐Pacific sea surface temperatures?
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Are we near the predictability limit of tropical Indo‐Pacific sea surface temperatures?
  • Published Date:

    2017

  • Source:
    Geophysical Research Letters 44(16): 8520-8529, 2017
Filetype[PDF-1.23 MB]


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  • Description:
    The predictability of seasonal anomalies worldwide rests largely on the predictability of tropical sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies. Tropical forecast skill is also a key metric of climate models. We find, however, that despite extensive model development, the tropical SST forecast skill of the operational North American Multi‐Model Ensemble (NMME) of eight coupled atmosphere‐ocean models remains close both regionally and temporally to that of a vastly simpler linear inverse model (LIM) derived from observed covariances of SST, sea surface height, and wind fields. The LIM clearly captures the essence of the predictable SST dynamics. The NMME and LIM skills also closely track and are only slightly lower than the potential skill estimated using the LIM's forecast signal‐to‐noise ratios. This suggests that the scope for further skill improvement is small in most regions, except in the western equatorial Pacific where the NMME skill is currently much lower than the LIM skill.
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