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Does increased atmospheric resolution improve seasonal climate predictions?

Scaife, A. A., Camp, J., Comer, R., Davis, P., Dunstone, N., Gordon, M., MacLachlan, C., Martin, N., Nie, Y., Ren, H.-L., Roberts, M., Robinson, W., Smith, D. and Vidale, P. L. ORCID: (2019) Does increased atmospheric resolution improve seasonal climate predictions? Atmospheric Science Letters, 20 (8). e922. ISSN 1530-261X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1002/asl.922


We assess the impact of atmospheric horizontal resolution on the prediction skill and fidelity of seasonal forecasts. We show the response to an increase of atmospheric resolution from 0.8 to 0.3⁰ horizontal grid spacing in parallel ensembles of forecasts. Changes in the prediction skill of major modes of tropical El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and extratropical North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) variability are small and not detected and there is no discernible impact on the weak signal-to-noise ratio in seasonal predictions of the winter NAO at this range of resolutions. Although studies have shown improvements in the simulation of tropical cyclones as model resolution is increased, we find little impact on seasonal prediction skill of either their numbers or intensity. Over this range of resolutions it appears that the benefit of increasing atmospheric resolution to seasonal climate predictions is minimal. However, at yet finer scales there appears to be increased eddy feedback which could strengthen weak signals in predictions of the NAO. Until prediction systems can be run operationally at these scales, it may be better to use additional computing resources for other enhancements such as increased ensemble size, for which there is a clear benefit in extratropical seasonal prediction skill.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > NCAS
ID Code:84866
Uncontrolled Keywords:Atmospheric Science


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