Improved seasonal prediction of the 2003 European hot summer
David A. MacLeod, Hannah L. Cloke, Florian Pappenberger and Antje Weisheimer (2015) Improved seasonal prediction of the hot summer of 2003 over Europe through better representation of uncertainty in the land surface DOI: 10.1002/qj.2631
Methods to explicitly represent uncertainties in weather and climate models have been developed and refined over the past decade, and have reduced biases and improved forecast skill when implemented in the atmospheric component of models. These methods have not yet been applied to the land surface component of models. Since the land surface is strongly coupled to the atmospheric state at certain times and in certain places (such as the European summer of 2003), improvements in the representation of land surface uncertainty may potentially lead to improvements in atmospheric forecasts for such events.
Here we analyse seasonal retrospective forecasts for 1981–2012 performed with the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts’ (ECMWF) coupled ensemble forecast model. We consider two methods of incorporating uncertainty into the land surface model (H-TESSEL): stochastic perturbation of tendencies, and static perturbation of key soil parameters.
We find that the perturbed parameter approach considerably improves the forecast of extreme air temperature for summer 2003, through better representation of negative soil moisture anomalies and upward sensible heat flux. Averaged across all the reforecasts the perturbed parameter experiment shows relatively little impact on the mean bias, suggesting perturbations of at least this magnitude can be applied to the land surface without any degradation of model climate. There is also little impact on skill averaged across all reforecasts and some evidence of overdispersion for soil moisture.
The stochastic tendency experiments show a large overdispersion for the soil temperature fields, indicating that the perturbation here is too strong. There is also some indication that the forecast of the 2003 warm event is improved for the stochastic experiments, however the improvement is not as large as observed for the perturbed parameter experiment.