What does the temperature of the Atlantic tell us about summer rainfall?

This week, researchers from the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) at the University of Reading published a paper suggesting that summer seasonal weather forecasting in the UK could become more accurate thanks to new research.  This result is the latest in a long history of work on the links between Atlantic Ocean sea-surface temperatures and the jet stream since early work by the American researcher Jerome Namias in the 1960s and Met Office research by Ratcliffe and Murray in the 1970s. The research also extends earlier results on summer predictability from the Atlantic Ocean state (Colman and Davey, 1999).

An Argo float

A global network of marine bouys and floats is providing valuable information on temperatures at the sea surface and down to a depth of up to two kilometres.

Commenting on this new research Professor Adam Scaife (Head of Monthly to Decadal Prediction at the Met Office) said:  “Statistical empirical forecasts, like this, are an important tool in our goal of improved weather forecasting.  Our computer models need to reproduce these important relationships so that they can integrate them with everything else going in the climate system to give the best weather and climate predictions.  This avoids over reliance on a single effect and gives physically-based predictions in situations that we have not encountered in the historical record.”

This new research will help the Met Office and its university collaborators define an important area of focus for testing computer models used for prediction, and we have already been examining its role in our long-range predictions.

Professor Scaife concluded: “We’ve made great progress in long-range forecasting for winter, and this result highlights an exciting way forward to break into the long-range forecast problem for summer.”

Citation: Osso, A., Sutton, R., Shaffrey, L., and Dong, B. Observational evidence of European summer weather patterns predictable from spring. Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences (2017).



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1 Response to What does the temperature of the Atlantic tell us about summer rainfall?

  1. Being able to forecast what the summer would be like by looking at sea temperatures of eastern Canada is all well and good but with a Significant Skill of 0.56 it’s not much better than tossing a coin. There will be many summers that will turn out to be be wrong with many disappointed customers. Climate is so complicated !!!!!!!

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