Publication Details

Berliner, L. M., Wikle, C. K. & Cressie, N. A. (2000). Long-lead prediction of Pacific SSTs via Bayesian dynamic modeling. Journal of Climate, 13 (22), 3953-3968.


Tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures (SSTs) and the accompanying El Nino-Southern Oscillation phenomenon are recognized as significant components of climate behavior. The atmospheric and oceanic processes involved display highly complicated variability over both space and time. Researchers have applied both physically derived modeling and statistical approaches to develop long-lead predictions of tropical Pacific SSTs. The comparative successes of these two approaches are a subject of substantial inquiry and some controversy. Presented in this article is a new procedure for long-lead forecasting of tropical Pacific SST fields that expresses qualitative aspects of scientific paradigms for SST dynamics in a statistical manner. Through this combining of substantial physical understanding and statistical modeling and learning, this procedure acquires considerable predictive skill, Specifically. a Markov model, applied to a low-order (empirical orthogonal function-based) dynamical system of tropical Pacific SST, with stochastic regime transition. is considered. The approach accounts explicitly for uncertainty in the formulation of the model, which leads to realistic error bounds on forecasts. The methodology that makes this possible is hierarchical Bayesian dynamical modeling.