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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: NOAA'S CLIMATE PRECIPITATION FORECASTS: INITIAL ASSESSMENT OF UTILITY FOR AGRICULTURAL APPLICATIONS

Authors
item Schneider, Jeanne
item Garbrecht, Jurgen

Submitted to: Grazinglands Research Laboratory Miscellaneous Publication
Publication Type: Government Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: April 8, 2002
Publication Date: April 8, 2002

Interpretive Summary: Seasonal forecasts of precipitation are issued by NOAA's Climate Prediction Center and provide potentially useful information to support planning and management in agriculture. However, effective use requires an assessment of forecast characteristics in terms relative to agriculture. While such forecast analysis is best performed with a specific application in mind, our research has identified a number of generally applicable assessments of forecast characteristics, intended to provide guidance for managers or producers who are considering using the forecasts. The assessments presented here are: forecast content; degree of difference between forecast conditions and normal conditions; forecast reliability; and forecast effectiveness relative to a forecast based on average conditions. The assessments address both general and location specific considerations. For example, the forecasts have been shown to vary in usefulness, dependability, and effectiveness with region. Usefulness has been best in the Desert Southwest, south and west Texas, and southern Florida. Dependability reveals that the forecasts have been too dry in north Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, but dependable in southern Texas. Effectiveness has been generally better across the southern third of the United States, and best in southern Arizona and Florida. This suggests that the forecasts may not be currently useful for all applications at all locations.

Technical Abstract: Experimental seasonal precipitation climate forecasts are issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center. These forecasts specify the probabilities for total precipitation relative to climatological distributions, for 13 overlapping 3-month periods covering the coming year, for each of 102 forecast divisions covering the contiguous United States. The forecasts could lead to beneficial applications in agriculture, but effective use requires an assessment of forecast characteristics in terms relative to agriculture. This paper introduces the forecasts, illustrates their use, and presents three initial assessments of forecast characteristics. The assessed characteristics are termed forecast usefulness, dependability, and effectiveness. These characteristics vary with region, suggesting that these experimental precipitation climate forecasts may or may not be currently useful for all applications at all locations. Usefulness has been best in the Desert Southwest, south and west Texas, and southern Florida. Dependability reveals that the forecasts have been too dry in north Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, but dependable in southern Texas. Effectiveness has been generally better across the southern third of the United States, and best in southern Arizona and Florida.

Last Modified: 9/1/2014
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