Evolution of ECMWF sub-seasonal forecast skill scores over the past 10 years

TitleEvolution of ECMWF sub-seasonal forecast skill scores over the past 10 years
Publication TypeMiscellaneous
Year of Publication2013
AuthorVitart, F
Secondary TitleTechnical Memorandum

Sub-seasonal forecasts have been routinely produced at ECMWF since 2002 with re-forecasts produced "on the fly" to calibrate the real-time sub-seasonal forecasts. In this study, the skill of the re-forecasts from April 2002 to March 2012 and covering a common set of years (1995 to 2001) has been evaluated. Results indicate that the skill of the ECMWF re-forecasts to predict the Madden Julian Oscillation has improved significantly since 2002, with an average gain of about 1 day of predictability per year. The amplitude of the MJO has also become more realistic, although the model still tends to produce MJOs which are weaker than in the ECMWF re-analysis. As a consequence, the ability of the ECMWF model to simulate realistic MJO teleconnections over the northern and southern Extratropics has improved dramatically over the past 10 years. Forecast skill scores have also improved in the Extratropics. For instance, weekly mean forecasts of the North Atlantic Oscillation Index are significantly more skillful in recent years than ten years ago. A large part of this improvement seems to be linked to the improvements in the representation of the Madden Julian Oscillation. Skill to predict 2-metre temperature anomalies over the northern Extratropics has also improved almost continuously since 2002, with a gain of almost a week of predictability in the last weeks of the sub-seasonal forecasts. Changes in the horizontal and vertical resolutions of the atmospheric model had only a small impact on the skill scores, suggesting that most of the improvements in the ECMWF sub-seasonal forecasts were due to changes in model physics which were primarily designed to improve the model climate and medium-range forecasts.