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The signal‐to‐noise paradox for interannual surface atmospheric temperature predictions

The signal‐to‐noise paradox for interannual surface atmospheric temperature predictions
The signal‐to‐noise paradox for interannual surface atmospheric temperature predictions
The “signal‐to‐noise paradox” implies that climate models are better at predicting observations than themselves. Here, it is shown that this apparent paradox is expected when the relative level of predicted signal is weaker in models than in observations. In the presence of model error, the paradox only occurs in the range of small signal‐to‐noise ratio of the model, occurring for even smaller model signal‐to‐noise ratio with increasing model error. This paradox is always a signature of the prediction unreliability. Applying this concept to noninitialized simulations of Surface Atmospheric Temperature (SAT) of the CMIP5 database, under the assumption that prediction skill is associated with persistence, shows that global mean SAT is marginally less persistent in models than in observations. However, at a local scale, the analysis suggests that ∼70% of the globe exhibits the signal‐to‐noise paradox for local SAT interannual forecasts and that the Signal‐to‐Noise Paradox occurs especially over the oceans.
0094-8276
9031-9041
Sévellec, F.
01569d6c-65b0-4270-af2a-35b0a77c9140
Drijfhout, S. S.
a5c76079-179b-490c-93fe-fc0391aacf13
Sévellec, F.
01569d6c-65b0-4270-af2a-35b0a77c9140
Drijfhout, S. S.
a5c76079-179b-490c-93fe-fc0391aacf13

Sévellec, F. and Drijfhout, S. S. (2019) The signal‐to‐noise paradox for interannual surface atmospheric temperature predictions. Geophysical Research Letters, 46 (15), 9031-9041. (doi:10.1029/2019GL083855).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The “signal‐to‐noise paradox” implies that climate models are better at predicting observations than themselves. Here, it is shown that this apparent paradox is expected when the relative level of predicted signal is weaker in models than in observations. In the presence of model error, the paradox only occurs in the range of small signal‐to‐noise ratio of the model, occurring for even smaller model signal‐to‐noise ratio with increasing model error. This paradox is always a signature of the prediction unreliability. Applying this concept to noninitialized simulations of Surface Atmospheric Temperature (SAT) of the CMIP5 database, under the assumption that prediction skill is associated with persistence, shows that global mean SAT is marginally less persistent in models than in observations. However, at a local scale, the analysis suggests that ∼70% of the globe exhibits the signal‐to‐noise paradox for local SAT interannual forecasts and that the Signal‐to‐Noise Paradox occurs especially over the oceans.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 5 July 2019
e-pub ahead of print date: 22 July 2019
Published date: 7 August 2019

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 433915
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/433915
ISSN: 0094-8276
PURE UUID: 961dc8ac-9ec4-47ff-81ad-cf38142f2791

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Date deposited: 06 Sep 2019 16:30
Last modified: 30 Sep 2019 16:30

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Contributors

Author: F. Sévellec
Author: S. S. Drijfhout

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