Enhancing Seasonal Forecast Skills by Optimally Weighting the Ensemble from Fresh Data
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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OriginalversjonWeather and forecasting. 2023, 38 (8), 1241-1252. 10.1175/WAF-D-22-0166.1
Dynamical climate predictions are produced by assimilating observations and running ensemble simulations of Earth system models. This process is time consuming and by the time the forecast is delivered, new observations are already available, making it obsolete from the release date. Moreover, producing such predictions is computationally demanding, and their production frequency is restricted. We tested the potential of a computationally cheap weighting average technique that can continuously adjust such probabilistic forecasts—in between production intervals—using newly available data. The method estimates local positive weights computed with a Bayesian framework, favoring members closer to observations. We tested the approach with the Norwegian Climate Prediction Model (NorCPM), which assimilates monthly sea surface temperature (SST) and hydrographic profiles with the ensemble Kalman filter. By the time the NorCPM forecast is delivered operationally, a week of unused SST data are available. We demonstrate the benefit of our weighting method on retrospective hindcasts. The weighting method greatly enhanced the NorCPM hindcast skill compared to the standard equal weight approach up to a 2-month lead time (global correlation of 0.71 vs 0.55 at a 1-month lead time and 0.51 vs 0.45 at a 2-month lead time). The skill at a 1-month lead time is comparable to the accuracy of the EnKF analysis. We also show that weights determined using SST data can be used to improve the skill of other quantities, such as the sea ice extent. Our approach can provide a continuous forecast between the intermittent forecast production cycle and be extended to other independent datasets.