Limits of predictability in the North Pacific sector of a comprehensive climate model

Dimitrios Giannakis, Andrew J. Majda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We study limits of interannual to decadal predictability of sea surface temperature (SST) in the North Pacific sector of the Community Climate System Model version 3 (CCSM3). Using a set of low-frequency and intermittent spatiotemporal SST modes acquired through nonlinear Laplacian spectral analysis (a nonlinear data manifold generalization of singular spectrum analysis), we build a hierarchy of regression models with external factors to determine which modes govern the dynamic evolution and predictability of prominent large-scale patterns, namely the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and North Pacific Gyre Oscillation (NPGO). Retaining key triple correlations between prognostic variables and external factors, as well as the seasonality of the data, we find that the PDO and NPGO modes of CCSM3 can be described with remarkably high fidelity as an outcome of forcing by the intermittent modes (with phase demodulation by the seasonal cycle) and cubic interactions between the low-frequency modes. Our results differ from the classical picture of ENSO-driven autoregressive models for North Pacific SST variability, providing evidence that intermittent processes, such as variability of the Kuroshio current, limit long-range predictability in this climate model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL24602
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 28 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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