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Journal Article: BibTeX citation key:  Tompkins2010a
Tompkins, A. M. & Feudale, L. (2010) Seasonal Ensemble Predictions of West African Monsoon Precipitation in the ECMWF System 3 with a Focus on the AMMA special observing period in 2006. IN Weather and Forecasting, 25. 768–788.
Added by: Fanny Lefebvre 2010-08-27 12:41:40    Last Edited by: Fanny Lefebvre 2010-10-28 19:09:39
Categories: General
Keywords: Precipitation
Creators: Feudale, Tompkins
Collection: Weather and Forecasting

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The West Africa monsoon precipitation of the ECMWF operational Seasonal Forecast System (SYS3) is evaluated at a lead time of 2–4 months in a 49-yr hindcast dataset, with special attention paid to the African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis (AMMA) special observation period during 2006. In both the climatology and the year 2006 the SYS3 reproduces the progression of the West Africa monsoon but with a number of differences, most notably a southerly shift of the precipitation in the main monsoon months of July and August and the lack of preonset rainfall suppression and sudden onset jump. The model skill at predicting summer monsoon rainfall anomalies has increased in recent years indicating improvements in the ocean analysis since the 1990s.

Examination of other model fields shows a widespread warm sea surface temperature (SST) bias exceeding 1.5 K in the Gulf of Guinea throughout the monsoon months in addition to a cold bias in the North Atlantic, which would both tend to enhance rainfall over the Gulf of Guinea coast at the expense of the monsoon rainfall over the Sahel. Seasonal forecasts were repeated for 2006 using the same release of the atmospheric forecast model forced by observed SSTs, and the monsoon rainfall reverts to its observed position, indicating the importance of the SST biases.

A lack of stratocumulus off the west coast of Africa in SYS3 was hypothesized as a possible cause of the systematic rain and SST biases. Two more sets of ensembles were thus conducted with atmospheric model upgrades designed to tackle radiation, deep convection, and turbulence deficiencies. While these enhancements improve the simulation of stratocumulus significantly, it is found that the improvement in the warm SST bias is limited in scope to the southern cold tongue region. In contrast, the changes to the representation of convection cause an increase in surface downwelling shortwave radiation that, combined with latent heat flux changes associated with the wind stress field, increases the SST warm bias on and to the north of the equator. Thus, while the precipitation shortfall in the Sahel is reduced with the new physics, the overestimated rainfall of SYS3 in the coastal region is further enhanced, degrading the model systematic errors overall in the West Africa region. Finally, the difference in the systematic biases between the coupled and uncoupled systems was noted to be an impediment to the development of seamless forecasting systems.
Added by: Fanny Lefebvre    Last Edited by: Fanny Lefebvre