Quantifying the predictability of winter river flow in Iberia. Part 2: seasonal predictability

Gámis-Fortis S., Pozo-Vazquez D. Trigo R.M., Castro-Diez Y.
Journal of Climate, 21, 2503-2518, DOI: 10.1175/2007JCLI1775.1

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The role of the Atlantic summer and autumn SSTs on the predictability of the winter Iberian Peninsula river flows is analyzed during the period 1923-2004. The analysis is based on the results of an interannual predictability experiment, using autoregressive-moving-average (ARMA) models, carried out in the first part of this work. A standard principal component analysis (PCA) was applied to the summer and autumn SST fields for the entire Atlantic Ocean. Then, the association between the resulting principal component (PC) series and the Iberian Peninsula streamflow series was analyzed, in order to use the PC series as additional predictor variables in a seasonal forecasting regression model. Results proved, first, that during autumn, the SST variability in the so-called North Atlantic horseshoe pattern has a statistically significant linear influence in the following winter streamflow values. In particular, the use of this SST information considerably improves the skill of the linear forecast (improvements against climatology range from 61% to 90%) compared to the ARMA-alone model (51%-53%). These improvements are mostly related to the ability of the SST information to provide better estimates of extreme streamflow values. Additionally, results showed that the summer tropical Atlantic and the autumn southwestern Atlantic SST variability have a significant nonlinear influence on the following winter streamflow values. In particular, there is a tendency for negative streamflow anomalies following tropical Atlantic summer negative SST anomalies and following southwestern Atlantic autumn SST positive anomalies. It is finally concluded that the linear interannual predictability of the Iberian Peninsula winter streamflow is greater (two-thirds of the total predictability) than the predictability associated with the previous season autumn SSTs (one-third).