The role of boundary and initial conditions for dynamical seasonal predictability
Abstract. The importance of initial state and boundary forcing for atmospheric predictability is explored on global to regional spatial scales and on daily to seasonal time scales. A general circulation model is used to conduct predictability experiments with different combinations of initial and boundary conditions. The experiments are verified under perfect model assumptions as well as against observational data. From initial conditions alone, there is significant instantaneous forecast skill out to 2 months. Different initial conditions show different predictability using the same kind of boundary forcing. Even on seasonal time scales, using observed atmospheric initial conditions leads to a substantial increase in overall skill, especially during periods with weak tropical forcing. The impact of boundary forcing on predictability is detectable after 10 days and leads to measurable instantaneous forecast skill at very long lead times. Over the Northern Hemisphere, it takes roughly 4 weeks for boundary conditions to reach the same effect on predictability as initial conditions. During events with strong tropical forcing, these time scales are somewhat shorter. Over the Southern Hemisphere, there is a strongly enhanced influence of initial conditions during summer. We conclude that the long term memory of initial conditions is important for seasonal forecasting.