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Working Toward a Better Climate Forecast

Using Climate Data to Improve Long-Term Forecasting

Ranchers, farmers, land managers, and many others take a keen interest in long-term – e.g., three- to six-month – forecasting, a highly complex endeavor with a lot of moving parts. One potential tool may, in fact, come from larger-scale climate drivers, such as the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO).

In partnership with USDA and CSU researchers, including Bill Parton, NC CSC scientists recently evaluated whether ENSO and PDO, both models of sea surface temperature anomalies, had an effect on grassland production in the Great Plains.

Using long-term observations of grassland plant production, satellite data for the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), and actual evapotranspiration (AET) simulations, the team found several measurable impacts, including a correlation between ENSO/PDO values and seasonal precipitation and AET, as well as a correlation with the amount of inter-annual variability in plant growth.

Read more on these contributions to the improvement of long-term forecasting in a December publication in Ecosphere.

: Bighorn in the northern shortgrass prairie lands of the Great Plains (Justin Meissen, CC BY-SA 2.0)