Multi-annual Climate predictions for fisheries: An assessment of skill of sea surface temperature forecasts for large marine ecosystems

Desiree Tommasi, Charles A. Stock, Michael A. Alexander, Xiaosong Yang, Anthony Rosati, Gabriel Andres Vecchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Decisions made by fishers and fisheries managers are informed by climate and fisheries observations that now often span more than 50 years. Multi-annual climate forecasts could further inform such decisions if they were skillful in predicting future conditions relative to the 50-year scope of past variability. We demonstrate that an existing multi-annual prediction system skillfully forecasts the probability of next year, the next 1-3 years, and the next 1-10 years being warmer or cooler than the 50-year average at the surface in coastal ecosystems. Probabilistic forecasts of upper and lower seas surface temperature (SST) terciles over the next 3 or 10 years from the GFDL CM 2.1 10-member ensemble global prediction system showed significant improvements in skill over the use of a 50-year climatology for most Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs) in the North Atlantic, the western Pacific, and Indian oceans. Through a comparison of the forecast skill of initialized and uninitialized hindcasts, we demonstrate that this skill is largely due to the predictable signature of radiative forcing changes over the 50-year timescale rather than prediction of evolving modes of climate variability. North Atlantic LMEs stood out as the only coastal regions where initialization significantly contributed to SST prediction skill at the 1 to 10 year scale.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number201
JournalFrontiers in Marine Science
Issue numberJUN
StatePublished - Jun 30 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Ocean Engineering


  • Climate forecasts
  • Decadal predictions
  • Fisherie
  • Large marine ecosystems
  • Multi-annual predictions
  • Probabilistic forecasts
  • Sea-surface temperature predictions


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