A predictable AMO-like pattern in the GFDL fully coupled ensemble initialization and decadal forecasting system

Xiaosong Yang, Anthony Rosati, Shaoqing Zhang, Thomas L. Delworth, Rich G. Gudgel, Rong Zhang, Gabriel Vecchi, Whit Anderson, You soon Chang, Timothy Delsole, Keith Dixon, Rym Msadek, William F. Stern, Andrew Wittenberg, Fanrong Zeng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


The decadal predictability of sea surface temperature (SST) and 2-m air temperature (T2m)in theGeophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) decadal hindcasts, which are part of the Fifth Coupled Model Intercomparison Project experiments, has been investigated using an average predictability time (APT) analysis. Comparison of retrospective forecasts initialized using the GFDL Ensemble Coupled Data Assimilation system with uninitialized historical forcing simulations using the same model allows identification of the internal multidecadal pattern (IMP) forSST and T2m. The IMP of SST is characterized by an interhemisphere dipole, with warm anomaliescentered in the North Atlantic subpolar gyre region and North Pacific subpolar gyre region, and cold anomalies centered in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current region. The IMP of T2m is characterized by a general bipolar seesaw, with warm anomalies centered in Greenland and cold anomalies centered in Antarctica. The retrospective prediction skill of the initialized system, verified against independent observational datasets, indicates that the IMP of SST may be predictable up to 4 (10) yr lead time at 95% (90%) significance level, and the IMP of T2m may be predictable up to 2 (10) yr at the 95% (90%) significance level. The initialization of multidecadal variations of northward oceanic heat transport in the North Atlantic significantly improves the predictive skill of the IMP. The dominant roles of oceanic internal dynamics in decadal predictionare further elucidated by fixed-forcing experiments in which radiative forcing is returned abruptly to 1961 values. These results point toward the possibility of meaningful decadalclimate outlooks using dynamical coupled models if they are appropriately initialized from a sustained climate observing system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)650-661
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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