Impact of land-surface initialization on sub-seasonal to seasonal forecasts over Europe

Profhomme C, Doblas-Reyes F, Bellprat O, Dutra E
Clim Dyn (2016) 47: 919.

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Land surfaces and soil conditions are key sources of climate predictability at the seasonal time scale. In order to estimate how the initialization of the land surface affects the predictability at seasonal time scale, we run two sets of seasonal hindcasts with the general circulation model EC-Earth2.3. The initialization of those hindcasts is done either with climatological or realistic land initialization in May using the ERA-Land re-analysis. Results show significant improvements in the initialized run occurring up to the last forecast month. The prediction of near-surface summer temperatures and precipitation at the global scale and over Europe are improved, as well as the warm extremes prediction. As an illustration, we show that the 2010 Russian heat wave is only predicted when soil moisture is initialized. No significant improvement is found for the retrospective prediction of the 2003 European heat wave, suggesting this event to be mainly large-scale driven. Thus, we confirm that late-spring soil moisture conditions can be decisive in triggering high-impact events in the following summer in Europe. Accordingly, accurate land-surface initial conditions are essential for seasonal predictions.