Skilful predictions of the winter North Atlantic Oscillation one year ahead

Nature Geoscience | Dunstone et al. [2016]

The winter North Atlantic Oscillation is the primary mode of atmospheric variability in the North Atlantic region and has a profound influence on European and North American winter climate. Until recently, seasonal variability of the North Atlantic Oscillation was thought to be largely driven by chaotic and inherently unpredictable processes. However, latest generation seasonal forecasting systems have demonstrated significant skill in predicting the North Atlantic Oscillation when initialized a month before the onset of winter. Here we extend skillful dynamical model predictions to more than a year ahead. The skill increases greatly with ensemble size due to a spuriously small signal-to-noise ratio in the model, and consequently larger ensembles are projected to further increase the skill in predicting the North Atlantic Oscillation. We identify two sources of skill for second-winter forecasts of the North Atlantic Oscillation: climate variability in the tropical Pacific region and predictable effects of solar forcing on the stratospheric polar vortex strength. We also identify model biases in Arctic sea ice that, if reduced, may further increase skill. Our results open possibilities for a range of new climate services, including for the transport, energy, water management and insurance sectors.

Full text can be found here.

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