What will next season be like?

Image of the month - December 2007

Forecast of temperature at ground level (2 m) made on November 2007 for the February - March - April 2008 period. The map show the probability of temperature being lower than normal (blue) or higher than normal (yellow to red). The dark blue area west of South America could be linked to La Niña (lower temperature and lower rain). Only the most likely occurrence is plotted. Normal is defined as the interval between lower and upper tercile. (Credits ECMWF)

One of the major questions today in the ocean/atmosphere and climate fields concerns the production of reliable seasonal climate predictions. Even if it will probably be impossible to predict the weather on a given day more than (at the utmost) two weeks in advance, the ocean's influence on the atmosphere should enable the trends of the approaching seasons to be forecasted. This is already providing interesting results in tropical areas. Temperate areas are more difficult, but several projects are underway, which are aiming to predict what the weather will be like next summer - drier or wetter, hotter or colder than the average.

Altimetry is helping seasonal forecast by providing information on the ocean dynamics. Other data, like those of the Argo array are also assimilated in seasonal forecasting models, and bring their own kind of information.

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