AOES Researchers Find Oasis in “Predictability Desert”

Inside Science, the popular news service covering scientific discovery, reported on a paper by AOES scientists Tim DelSole, Laurie Trenary, and Kathy Pegion in collaboration with Michael Tippett of Columbia University.

Back in the 1960s, Ed Lorenz discovered that chaos made daily weather impossible to predict more than a few weeks in advance. In recent decades, researchers at COLA and elsewhere have been studying how the land and ocean may allow prediction of seasonal averages months or longer in advance. However, forecasting 3-4 weeks in advance has been traditionally considered a kind of “predictability desert” that is too far in the future for weather forecasts and too short for climate forecasts. DelSole et al. use a sophisticated statistical approach to find that NOAA’s Climate Forecast System has significant skill at 3-4 weeks for large swathes of the United States. As noted in the paper, skillful forecasts in this range “would have significant social and economic value because many management decisions in agriculture, food security, water resources, and disaster risk are made on this time scale.”

Inside Science: “Breaking New Ground in Weather Forecasting”

Journal of Climate: Predictability of Week 3-4 Average Temperature and Precipitation over the Contiguous United States”

Figure from DelSole 2017 Predictability Paper