An analysis of ENSO prediction skill in the CFS retrospective forecasts

Renguang Wu, Ben P. Kirtman, Huug van den Dool

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

The present study documents the so-called spring prediction and persistence barriers in association with El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Climate Forecast System (CFS) retrospective forecasts. It is found that the spring prediction and persistence barriers in the eastern equatorial Pacific sea surface temperature (SST) are preceded by a boreal winter barrier in the western equatorial Pacific zonal wind stress. The time of the persistence barrier is closely related to the time of the ENSO phase transition, but may differ from the time of the lowest variance. The seasonal change of the signal-to-noise ratio cannot explain the persistence barrier. While the noise may lead to a drop of skill around boreal spring in the western equatorial Pacific zonal wind stress, its impacts on the skill of eastern equatorial Pacific SST is small. The equatorial Pacific zonal winds display an excessive response to ENSO-related SST anomalies, which leads to a longer persistence in the equatorial Pacific thermocline depth anomalies and a delayed transition of the eastern equatorial Pacific SST anomalies. This provides an interpretation for the prediction skill drop in boreal spring in the eastern equatorial Pacific SST. The results suggest that improving the atmospheric model wind response to SST anomalies may reduce the spring prediction barrier.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1801-1818
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Climate
Volume22
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - May 11 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science

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