At the Australian Bureau of Meteorology there is ongoing call for exploring dynamical model based seasonal prediction beyond ENSO. In this talk I will give an overview of the Bureau’s seasonal forecast system POAMA (Predictive Ocean Atmosphere Model for Australia) development work, and present several research and application studies on regional sea surface temperature (SST) and ocean current forecasts.
The Great Barrier Reef, located off the coast of northeast Australia, is the largest coral reef in the world. When SSTs exceed the coral’s temperature tolerance level, mass coral bleaching events are likely to occur. Advance warning of potential bleaching events will allow for implementing management strategies to minimise reef damage. Seasonal forecasts from POAMA are used to predict anomalous SSTs several months into the future. Model forecasts and skill assessment in the region, with emphasis on the 1998 and 2002 bleaching events will be discussed.
The Leeuwin Current is a warm current along the west coast of Australia. Its interannual variations have profound impacts on regional fisheries and climate. Seasonal prediction of the current with present climate models is not feasible due to insufficient resolution. Using forecasts of heat content along the northwest shelf of Australia and SST Niño3.4 from POAMA, a skilful downscaling scheme for prediction of Fremantle Sea Level anomalies, a proxy for Leeuwin Current strength, has been developed.