Skillful decadal prediction of unforced southern European summer temperature variations


We assess the capability of decadal prediction simulations from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 6 (CMIP6) archive to predict European summer temperature during the period 1970-2014. Using a multi-model ensemble average, we show that Southern European (SEU) summer temperatures are highly predictable for up to ten years in CMIP6. Much of this predictive skill, is related to the externally forced response: historical simulations explain about 90% of observed SEU summer temperature variance. Prediction skill for the unforced signal of SEU summer temperature is low: initialized model simulations explain less than 10% of observed variance after removing the externally forced response. An observed link between unforced SEU summer temperature and preceding spring Eastern North Atlantic - Mediterranean sea surface temperature (SST) motivates the application of a dynamical-statistical model to overcome the low summer temperature skill over Europe. This dynamical-statistical model uses dynamical spring SST predictions to predict European summer temperature, and significantly increases decadal prediction skill of unforced European summer temperature variations, showing significant prediction skill for unforced Southern European summer temperature 2-9 years ahead. As a result, dynamical-statistical models can benefit the decadal prediction of variables with initially limited skill beyond the forcing, such as summer temperature over Europe.
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