EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Seasonal forecasting of the European North West Shelf: Quantifying the persistence of the physical marine environment

Jamie Atkins1, Jonathan Tinker2, Jennifer Graham3, Adam Scaife1,2, and Paul Halloran1
Jamie Atkins et al.
  • 1University of Exeter, Faculty of Environment, Science and Economy, Exeter, UK
  • 2UK Met Office, Hadley Centre, Exeter, UK
  • 3Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, Lowestoft, UK

The European North West shelf seas (NWS) support economic and environmental interests of several adjacent populous countries. Forecasts of physical marine variables on the NWS for upcoming months – an important decision-making timescale – would be useful for many industries. However, currently there is no operational seasonal forecasting product deemed sufficient for capturing the high variability associated with shallow, dynamic shelf waters. Here, we identify the dominant sources of seasonal predictability on the shelf and quantify the extent to which empirical persistence relationships can produce skilful seasonal forecasts of the NWS at the lowest level complexity. We find that relatively skilful forecasts of the typically well-mixed Winter and Spring seasons are achievable via persistence methods at a one-month lead time. In addition, incorporating observed climate modes of variability, such as the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), can significantly boost persistence for some locations and seasons, but this is dependent on the strength of the climate mode index. However, even where high persistence skill is demonstrated, there are sizeable regions exhibiting poor predictability and skilful persistence forecasts are typically limited to ≈ one-month lead times. Summer and Autumn forecasts are generally less skilful owing largely to the effects of seasonal stratification which emphasises the influence of atmospheric variability on sea surface conditions. As such, we also begin incorporating knowledge of future atmospheric conditions to forecasting strategies. We assess the ability of an existing global coupled ocean-atmosphere seasonal forecasting system to exceed persistence skill and highlight areas where additional downscaling efforts may be needed.

How to cite: Atkins, J., Tinker, J., Graham, J., Scaife, A., and Halloran, P.: Seasonal forecasting of the European North West Shelf: Quantifying the persistence of the physical marine environment, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-6000,, 2023.