Skill Assessment of National Multi-Model Ensemble Forecasts for Seasonal Drought Prediction in East Africa

Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 11:35 AM
Shraddhanand Shukla1, Andrew Hoell1, Jason B Roberts2, Chris C Funk1 and Franklin R Robertson2, (1)University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, United States, (2)NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL, United States
The increasing food and water demands of East Africa’s growing population are stressing the region’s inconsistent water resources and rain-fed agriculture. As recently as 2011, part of this region underwent one of the worst famine events in its history. Timely and skillful drought forecasts at a seasonal scale for this region can inform better water and agro-pastoral management decisions, support optimal allocation of the region's water resources, and mitigate socio-economic losses incurred by droughts. However, seasonal drought prediction in this region faces several challenges including lack of skillful seasonal rainfall forecasts.

The National Multi-model Ensemble (NMME); a state-of-the-art dynamical climate forecast system is potentially a promising tool for drought prediction in this region. The NMME incorporates climate forecasts from 6+ fully coupled dynamical models resulting in 100+ forecasts ensemble members. Recent studies have indicated that in general NMME offers improvement over forecasts from any of the individual model. However, thus far the skill of NMME for forecasting rainfall in a vulnerable region like East Africa has largely been unexplored. In this presentation we report findings of a comprehensive analysis that examines the strength and weakness of NMME in forecasting rainfall at seasonal scale in East Africa for all three of the prominent seasons of the region. (i.e. March-April-May, July-August-September, and October-November-December). Additionally we describe a hybrid approach that combines statistical method with NMME forecasts to improve rainfall forecast skill in the region when raw NMME forecasts skill is lacking. This approach uses constructed analog method to improve NMME’s March-April-May rainfall forecast skill in East Africa.