An experimental ENSO prediction system is presented, based on an ocean general circulation model (GCM) coupled to a statistical atmosphere and the adjoint method of 4D variational data assimilation. The adjoint method is used to initialize the coupled model, and predictions are performed for the period 1980-99. The coupled model is also initialized using two simpler assimilation techniques: forcing the ocean model with observed sea surface temperature and surface fluxes, and a 3D variational data assimilation (3DVAR) method, similar to that used by the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) for operational ENSO prediction. The prediction skill of the coupled model initialized by the three assimilation methods is then analyzed and compared. The effect of the assimilation period used in the adjoint method is studied by using 3-, 6-, and 9-month assimilation periods. Finally, the possibility of assimilating only the anomalies with respect to observed climatology in order to circumvent systematic model biases is examined. It is found that the adjoint method does seem to have the potential for improving over simpler assimilation schemes. The improved skill is mainly at prediction intervals of more than 6 months, where the coupled model dynamics start to influence the model solution. At shorter prediction time intervals, the initialization using the forced ocean model or the 3DVAR may result in a better prediction skill. The assimilation of anomalies did not have a substantial effect on the prediction skill of the coupled model. This seems to indicate that in this model the climatology bias, which is compensated for by the anomaly assimilation, is less significant for the predictive skill than the bias in the model variability, which cannot be eliminated using the anomaly assimilation. Changing the optimization period from 6 to 3 to 9 months showed that the period of 6 months seems to be a near-optimal choice for this model.
Monthly Weather Review
(2003). A Study of ENSO Prediction Using a Hybrid Coupled Model and the Adjoint Method for Data Assimilation. Monthly Weather Review, 131(11), 2748-2764.
Available at: http://aquila.usm.edu/fac_pubs/3153