An Assessment of the Performance of the Operational Global Ensemble Forecast Systems in Predicting the Forecast Uncertainty Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract This study investigates the efficiency of the major operational global ensemble forecast systems of the world in capturing the spatiotemporal evolution of the forecast uncertainty. Using data from 2015, it updates the results of an earlier study based on data from 2012. It also tests, for the first time on operational ensemble data, two quantitative relationships to aid in the interpretation of the raw ensemble forecasts. One of these relationships provides a flow-dependent prediction of the reliability of the ensemble in capturing the uncertain forecast features, while the other predicts the 95th percentile value of the magnitude of the forecast error. It is found that, except for the system of the Met Office, the main characteristics of the ensemble forecast systems have changed little between 2012 and 2015. The performance of the UKMO ensemble improved in predicting the overall magnitude of the uncertainty, but its ability to predict the dominant uncertain forecast features was degraded. A common serious limitation of the ensemble systems remains that they all have major difficulties with predicting the large-scale atmospheric flow in the long (longer than 10 days) forecast range. These difficulties are due to the inability of the ensemble members to maintain large-scale waves in the forecasts, which presents a stumbling block in the way of extending the skill of numerical weather forecasts to the subseasonal range. The two tested predictive relationships were found to provide highly accurate predictions of the flow-dependent reliability of the ensemble predictions and the 95th percentile value of the magnitude of the forecast error for the operational ensemble forecast systems.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Loeser, C. F., Herrera, M. A., & Szunyogh, I.

citation count

  • 6

complete list of authors

  • Loeser, Carlee F||Herrera, Michael A||Szunyogh, Istvan

publication date

  • February 2017