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Ocean forecast offers seasonal outlook for Pacific Northwest waters

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Researchers from the University of Washington and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have created a seasonal outlook for the Pacific Northwest waters, which would help tell if it’s going to be a great year for sardines or a poor crab season. A paper evaluating the forecast’s performance was published in June in the interdisciplinary, open-access journal NatureScientific Reports.

The tool, called JISAO Seasonal Coastal Ocean Prediction of the Ecosystem, or J-SCOPE, launched in summer 2013. The new paper is the first formal evaluation of how well it works. Analysis of the first three years of forecasts confirms that they do have measurable skill on seasonal timescales.

The seasonal forecasts for water oxygen, temperature, chlorophyll and pH along the coast of Washington, Oregon, Puget Sound and Canada’s Vancouver Island have been posted for the past three years on the UW-based Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems (NANOOS) website. That site now offers a comparison between the forecasted values and the long-term average, and the probability for different scenarios.

NANOOS is a Regional Association in support of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®).

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