An off-line, numerically efficient initialization scheme in an oceanic general circulation model for El Niño-Southern Oscillation prediction

Youmin Tang, Richard Kleeman, Andrew M. Moore, Jérôme Vialard, Anthony Weaver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In this study a simplified initialization scheme, which is "off-line," is proposed and applied to an oceanic general circulation model (OGCM) for El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) prediction. The initialization scheme is based on the National Centers for Environmental Prediction ocean reanalysis and a two-dimensional variational (2D-Var) assimilation algorithm. It focuses on two basic issues in data assimilation: observed data and computational cost. Compared with a traditional assimilation system, this simplified scheme avoids model forward integration and the complications of acquiring and processing raw in situ temperature observations. The off-line scheme only requires around 1/20 of the computational expense of a traditional algorithm. Two hybrid coupled models, an OGCM coupled to a statistical atmosphere, and the same ocean model coupled to a dynamical atmosphere, were used to examine the initialization scheme. A large ensemble of prediction experiments during the period from 1981 to 1998 shows that relative to just a wind forced initialization the off-line scheme leads to a significant improvement in predictive skills of Niño3 sea surface temperature anomaly (SSTA) for all lead times. The prediction skills obtained by the scheme is as high as that attained by a more traditional "on-line" assimilation scheme.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)C05014 1-15 - C05014 15-15
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research C: Oceans
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 15 2004



  • ENSO prediction
  • Initialization
  • Ocean model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology

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