The state of the art of seasonal prediction: Outcomes and recommendations from the first world climate research program workshop on seasonal prediction

Ben Kirtman, Anna Pirani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


During the 1990s, seasonal prediction matured to achieve notable successes - in particular, reaching a high level of quality in predictions of SST and ENSO variability in the tropical Pacific. Model error and forecast initialization nonetheless continue to limit forecast quality, and the predictability limit has not been reached. For example, while multimodel techniques improve forecast quality, they are still far from being applied to their full potential. There may be untapped predictability due to interactions between the components of the total climate system that are not fully accounted for in seasonal forecasts. The CLIVAR Working Group on Seasonal to Interannual Prediction (WGSIP) will provide the coordination for the Climate-system Historical Forecast Project (CHFP5), a multimodel and multi-institutional experimental framework to evaluate subseasonal-to-decadal physical climate system prediction. The effective communication of forecast skill, including forecast uncertainty, is crucial to evaluate progress in quality and to attain forecast value through its application. A common language needs to be developed for the assessment of forecast quality, establishing a process by which the seasonal prediction community can regularly evaluate progress in both forecast quality and value, of which the WCRP Seasonal Prediction Paper is the starting point. It is clear that there are challenges that still face the community in terms of predicting land surface temperature and rainfall and in the use of seasonal prediction information for societal benefit, and thus in yielding forecast value. The use of seasonal prediction information is partially hampered by forecast quality that needs to be increased and the difficulty in successfully communicating uncertainty and the limitations of seasonal forecasts. The seasonal prediction community is also only in the early stages of interacting with the climate change community; indeed, the use of forecast information for societal benefit will ultimately know no boundaries between seasonal prediction and climate change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)455-458
Number of pages4
JournalBulletin of the American Meteorological Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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