Skillful forecasts of 3-month total precipitation would be useful for decision making in hydrology, agriculture, public health, and other sectors of society. However, with some exceptions, the skill of seasonal precipitation outlooks is modest, leaving uncertainty in how to best make use of them. Seasonal precipitation forecast skill is generally lower than the skill of forecasts for temperature or atmospheric circulation patterns for the same location and time. This is attributable to the smaller- scale, more complex physics of precipitation, resulting in its "noisier'' and hence less predictable character. By contrast, associated temperature and circulation patterns are larger scale, in keeping with the anomalous boundary conditions ( e. g., sea surface temperature) that often give rise to them.Using two atmospheric general circulation models forced by observed sea surface temperature anomalies, the skill of simulations of total seasonal precipitation is examined as a function of the size of the spatial domain over which the precipitation total is averaged. Results show that spatial aggregation increases skill and, by the skill measures used here, does so to a greater extent for precipitation than for temperature. Corroborative results are presented in an observational framework at smaller spatial scales for gauge rainfalls in northeast Brazil.The findings imply that when seasonal forecasts for precipitation are issued, the accompanying guidance on their expected skills should explicitly specify to which spatial aggregation level the skills apply. Information about skills expected at other levels of aggregation should be supplied for users who may work at such levels.
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