African Easterly Wave Forecast Verification and Its Relation to Convective Errors within the ECMWF Ensemble Prediction System

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African easterly waves (AEWs) are the primary synoptic-scale weather feature found in sub-Saharan Africa during boreal summer, yet there have been few studies documenting the performance of operational ensemble prediction systems (EPSs) for these phenomena. Here, AEW forecasts in the 51-member ECMWF EPS are validated against an average of four operational analyses during two periods of enhanced AEW activity (July–September 2007–09 and 2011–13). During 2007–09, AEW position forecasts were mainly underdispersive and characterized by a slow bias, while intensity forecasts were characterized by an overintensification bias, yet the ensemble-mean errors generally matched the forecast uncertainty. Although 2011–13 position forecasts were still underdispersive with a slow bias, the ensemble-mean error is smaller than for 2007–09. In addition, the 2011–13 intensity forecasts were overdispersive and had a negligible intensity bias. Forecasts from 2007 to 2009 were characterized by higher precipitation in the AEW trough center and high correlations between divergence errors and intensity errors, suggesting the intensity bias is associated with errors in convection. By contrast, forecasts from 2011 to 2013 have smaller precipitation biases than those from 2007 to 2009 and exhibit a weaker correlation between divergence errors and intensity errors, suggesting a weaker connection between AEW forecast errors and convective errors.



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