Exploring North Atlantic and north pacific decadal climate prediction using self-organizing maps

Qinxue Gu, Melissa Gervais

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Decadal climate prediction can provide invaluable information for decisions made by government agencies and industry. Modes of internal variability of the ocean play an important role in determining the climate on decadal time scales. This study explores the possibility of using self-organizing maps (SOMs) to identify decadal climate variability, measure theoretical decadal predictability, and conduct decadal predictions of internal climate variability within a long control simulation. SOM is applied to an 11-yr running-mean winter sea surface temperature (SST) in the North Pacific and North Atlantic Oceans within the Community Earth System Model 1850 preindustrial simulation to identify patterns of internal variability in SSTs. Transition probability tables are calculated to identify preferred paths through the SOM with time. Results show both persistence and preferred evolutions of SST depending on the initial SST pattern. This method also provides a measure of the predictability of these SST patterns, with the North Atlantic being predictable at longer lead times than the North Pacific. In addition, decadal SST predictions using persistence, a first-order Markov chain, and lagged transition probabilities are conducted. The lagged transition probability predictions have a reemergence of prediction skill around lag 15 for both domains. Although the prediction skill is very low, it does imply that the SOM has the ability to predict some aspects of the internal variability of the system beyond 10 years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-141
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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