AbstractSeasonal prediction skill of SSTs from coupled models has considerable spatial variations. In the tropics, SST prediction skill in the tropical Pacific clearly exceeds prediction skill over the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Such skill variations can be due to spatial variations in observing system used for forecast initializations or systematic errors in the seasonal prediction systems, or they could be a consequence of inherent properties of the coupled ocean–atmosphere system leaving a fingerprint on the spatial structure of SST predictability. Out of various alternatives, the spatial variability in SST prediction skill is argued to be a consequence of inherent characteristics of climate system. This inference is supported based on the following analyses. SST prediction skill is higher over the regions where coupled air–sea interactions (or Bjerknes feedback) are inferred to be stronger. Coupled air–sea interactions, and the longer time scales associated with them, imprint longer memory and thereby support higher SST prediction skill. The spatial variability of SST prediction skill is also consistent with differences in the ocean–atmosphere interaction regimes that distinguish between whether ocean drives the atmosphere or atmosphere drives the ocean. Regions of high SST prediction skill generally coincide with regions where ocean forces the atmosphere. Such regimes correspond to regions where oceanic variability is on longer time scales compared to regions where atmosphere forces the ocean. Such regional differences in the spatial characteristics of ocean–atmosphere interactions, in turn, also govern the spatial variations in SST skill, making spatial variations in skill an intrinsic property of the climate system and not an artifact of the observing system or model biases.
Journal of Climate – American Meteorological Society
Published: Jan 26, 2018
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