Reliability of ENSO dynamical predictions

Youmin Tang, Richard Kleeman, Andrew M. Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this study, ensemble predictions were constructed using two realistic ENSO prediction models and stochastic optimals. By applying a recently developed theoretical framework, the authors have explored several important issues relating to ENSO predictability including reliability measures of ENSO dynamical predictions and the dominant precursors that control reliability. It was found that prediction utility (R), defined by relative entropy, is a useful measure for the reliability of ENSO dynamical predictions, such that the larger the value of R, the more reliable the prediction. The prediction utility R consists of two components, a dispersion component (DC) associated with the ensemble spread and a signal component (SC) determined by the predictive mean signals. Results show that the prediction utility R is dominated by SC. Using a linear stochastic dynamical system, SC was examined further and found to be intrinsically related to the leading eigenmode amplitude of the initial conditions. This finding was validated by actual model prediction results and is also consistent with other recent work. The relationship between R and SC has particular practical significance for ENSO predictability studies, since it provides an inexpensive and robust method for exploring forecast uncertainties without the need for costly ensemble runs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1770-1791
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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