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Zhang’s ESSIC ICM Outperformance Continues

At the December 2012 NOAA CPC ocean briefing, it was reported that the ESSIC researcher Rong-Hua Zhang’s Intermediate Coupled Model (ICM) has continued to outperform others of its kind, in predicting the “Nino 3.4 Region” Sea Surface Temperature (SST) anomalies, which classify El Niño (La Niña) episodes.

As defined by the NOAA National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) web-page on Sea Surface Temperatures (SST),  “El Niño (La Niña) is a phenomenon in the equatorial Pacific Ocean characterized by a five consecutive 3-month running mean of sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies in the Oceanic Niño Index (ONI).”

Zhang’s strong ICM results were first reported in November 2011, during a NOAA Climate Prediction Center “Sanity Check” of various SST model forecasts.  While other forecasts fell short, Zhang’s ESSIC ICM was the only model to accurately capture cold SST anomalies in the middle-late 2011. (See “Zhang’s ICM model a success among failures.”)

In a post-meeting communica, NOAA science staff expressed interest in further evaluation of the Zhang ICM’s “representation of the thermocline feedback intensity in predicting ENSO transition to negative phase” (given its intermediate design) and how to best incorporate those features into a fully coupled model.

Zhang found it exciting this his ICM – given its relative simplicityhas been able to provide such accurate “real-time” forecasts of tropical Pacific SST anomalies, during the 2010-2012 period.  Zhang also stated that he would be interested in a possible collaboration with NOAA scientists to the adopt some of the ICM’s techniques for an improved NOAA coupled forecast system (CFS) for “real-time” El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) prediction.


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