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Journal Articles Weather and Climate Dynamics Year : 2021

Bimodality in ensemble forecasts of 2 m temperature: identification


Bimodality and other types of non-Gaussianity arise in ensemble forecasts of the atmosphere as a result of nonlinear spread across ensemble members. In this paper, bimodality in 50-member ECMWF ENS-extended ensemble forecasts is identified and characterized. Forecasts of 2 m temperature are found to exhibit widespread bimodality well over a derived false-positive rate. In some regions bimodality occurs in excess of 30 % of forecasts, with the largest rates occurring during lead times of 2 to 3 weeks. Bimodality occurs more frequently in the winter hemisphere with indications of baroclinicity being a factor to its development. Additionally, bimodality is more common over the ocean, especially the polar oceans, which may indicate development caused by boundary conditions (such as sea ice). Near the equatorial region, bimodality remains common during either season and follows similar patterns to the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), suggesting convection as a possible source for its development. Over some continental regions the modes of the forecasts are separated by up to 15 °C. The probability density for the modes can be up to 4 times greater than at the minimum between the modes, which lies near the ensemble mean. The widespread presence of such bimodality has potentially important implications for decision makers acting on these forecasts. Bimodality also has implications for assessing forecast skill and for statistical postprocessing: several commonly used skill-scoring methods and ensemble dressing methods are found to perform poorly in the presence of bimodality, suggesting the need for improvements in how non-Gaussian ensemble forecasts are evaluated.
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insu-03726928 , version 1 (23-07-2022)



Cameron Bertossa, Peter Hitchcock, Arthur Degaetano, Riwal Plougonven. Bimodality in ensemble forecasts of 2 m temperature: identification. Weather and Climate Dynamics, 2021, 2, pp.1209-1224. ⟨10.5194/wcd-2-1209-2021⟩. ⟨insu-03726928⟩
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