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Publication Date
1 May 2021

Initialized Earth System prediction from subseasonal to decadal timescales

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Initialized Earth System predictions are made by starting a numerical prediction model in a state as consistent as possible to observations and running it forward in time for up to ten years. Skillful predictions at time slices from subseasonal to seasonal (S2S), seasonal to interannual (S2I), and seasonal to decadal (S2D) offer information useful for various stakeholders, from agriculture to water resource management to human and infrastructure safety


There are encouraging signs that skillful predictions can be made: at S2S timescales, there has been some skill in predicting the Madden-Julian Oscillation and North Atlantic Oscillation; at S2I in predicting the El Niño-Southern Oscillation; and at S2D, in predicting variability in North Atlantic sea surface temperatures.       


Future work must prioritize reducing model error, more effectively communicating forecasts to users, and increasing process and mechanistic understanding that could increase predictive skill and, in turn, confidence. As numerical models progress towards Earth System models, initialized predictions are expanding to include prediction of sea-ice, air pollution, terrestrial, and ocean biochemistry which can bring a clear benefit to society and various stakeholders.

Point of Contact
Gerald Meehl
National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)
Funding Program Area(s)