IRI Climate Digest
December-January-February Seasonal Forecast
Date and Period of Forecast
In November 2002, the IRI prepared a Climate Outlook for December 2002-May 2003. Here we provide a subset of the October IRI Forecast. The forecasts are updated monthly and can be found in their entirety at http://iri.columbia.edu/climate/forecast/net_asmt/.
This Climate Outlook is dependent on the quality of the sea surface temperature (SST) predictions. For the tropical Pacific, these predictions can be expected to provide useful information, but there is some uncertainty concerning the detailed evolution of SSTs. Spread in global SST predictions is a source of uncertainty in the Outlook provided here. The procedures, models, and data used to derive this Climate Outlook may be somewhat different from those used by National Meteorological Services in particular regions and may differ from the official forecasts issued in those areas.
The current status of seasonal-to-interannual climate forecasting allows prediction of spatial and temporal averages, and does not fully account for all factors that influence regional and national climate variability. This Outlook is relevant only to seasonal time scales and relatively large areas; local variations should be expected. For further information concerning this and other guidance products, users are strongly advised to contact their National Meteorological Services.
The Outlook for other regions of the globe for the seasons December-January-February through March-April-May can be found at Net Assessment forecasts.
Maps show expected precipitation probabilities in tercile classes. The maps indicate probabilities that seasonal precipitation will fall into the wettest third of the years (top number), the middle third of years (middle number) or the driest third of the years (bottom). An outlook of climatology "C" (no color) indicates equal probabilities in each class; i.e., there is no basis for favoring the forecast of any particular category. Boundaries between sub-regions should be considered transition zones, and their location considered to be only qualitatively correct. Color shading indicates which tercile class has the greatest probability of occurrence with darker shading indicating greater likelihood as shown by the legend to the right of the plots.
December-January-February 2003 Global Precipitation Probabilities
This forecast consists of expected probabilities of temperature in tercile classes. The terciles refer to the seasonal temperature falling into the warmest third of the years (top tercile), the middle third of years (middle tercile) or the coldest third of the years (bottom tercile). Boundaries between sub-regions should be considered transition zones, and their location considered to be only qualitatively correct. Color shading indicates which tercile class has the greatest probability of occurrence with darker shading indicating greater likelihood as shown by the legend on the bottom of the plots. Note:
The IRI is in the process of implementing new graphics for its forecast products. Currently, global maps only indicate (by shading) the tercile class with the greatest probability of occurrence.
Please consult the regional maps at Net Assessment forecasts for the probabilities of each tercile class.
December-January-February 2003 Global Temperature Probabilities
Of relevance in the preparation of this outlook is the prediction of moderate El Nino conditions in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific through the end of 2002 and lasting at least into early 2003. The sea surface temperatures (SSTs) across much of the central equatorial Pacific are more than 1 degree C above their long-term average (SSTs), and have been so for the last several months. In the last month, SST anomalies in the central Pacific have exceeded 2 degrees C. Warm SST anomalies for the central equatorial Pacific are predicted by the coupled model throughout the forecast period December-February 2003, January-March 2003, February-April 2003, March-May 2003. However, the coupled model forecast has not captured the strength of the currently observed warm conditions, and it is believed that the SST anomalies observed in the next 2-3 months may be warmer than indicated in the coupled model SST forecast. Warmer than average SSTs continue to dominate much of the central and western Indian Ocean. These are expected to decrease slowly through the forecast period. There are currently no substantial SST anomalies in the tropical Atlantic Ocean, but this may change near the end of the forecast period as the northern tropical Atlantic frequently develops warm SST anomalies in the February-May season in response to El Nino conditions in the Pacific (note, however, that these are not represented in the forecast SST).
The following procedures and information were used to prepare this Climate
- Coupled ocean-atmosphere model predictions of tropical Pacific SST
-- particularly heavy weighting has been given to the NOAA /NCEP,
Climate Modeling Branch coupled model
- Statistical forecasts of Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean sea surface
- The response of Atmospheric global circulation model (GCM) predictions
to the present and predicted SST patterns
- Statistical analyses
- Appropriate Regional Climate Outlook Forum consensus guidance.
Additional sources of information include ACMAD, COLA, CPTEC, CPC/NOAA,
CMC, Department of Natural Resources (Queensland, Australia), NIWA, ECMWF,
Indian Meteorological Department, PAGASA, Bureau of Meteorology, and the
South African Weather Service.