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Seasonal prediction of sea surface temperatures anomalies using a suite of 13 coupled atmosphere-ocean models

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Improved seasonal prediction of sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies over the global oceans is the theme of this paper. Using 13 state-of-the-art coupled global atmosphere-ocean models and 13 yr of seasonal forecasts, the performance of individual models, the ensemble mean, the bias-removed ensemble mean, and the Florida State University (FSU) superensemble are compared. A total of 23 400 seasonal forecasts based on 1-month lead times were available for this study. Evaluation metrics include both deterministic and probabilistic skill measures, such as verification of anomalies based on model and observed climatology, time series of specific climate indices, standard deterministic ensemble mean scores including anomaly correlations, root-mean-square (RMS) errors, and probabilistic skill measures such as equitable threat scores for seasonal SST forecasts. This study also illustrates the Niño-3.4 SST forecast skill for the equatorial Pacific Ocean and for the dipole index for the Indian Ocean. The relative skills of total SST fields and of the SST anomalies from the 13 coupled atmosphere-ocean models are presented. Comparisons of superensemble-based seasonal forecasts with recent studies on SST anomaly forecasts are also shown. Overall it is found that the multimodel superensemble forecasts are characterized by considerable RMS error reductions and increased accuracy in the spatial distribution of SST. Superensemble SST skill also persists for El Niño and La Niña forecasts since the large comparative skill of the superensemble is retained across such years. Real-time forecasts of seasonal sea surface temperature anomalies appear to be possible.

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