Maximum Likelihood Ensemble Filter: Theoretical Aspects

Zupanski, Milija
June 2005
Monthly Weather Review;Jun2005, Vol. 133 Issue 6, p1710
Academic Journal
A new ensemble-based data assimilation method, named the maximum likelihood ensemble filter (MLEF), is presented. The analysis solution maximizes the likelihood of the posterior probability distribution, obtained by minimization of a cost function that depends on a general nonlinear observation operator. The MLEF belongs to the class of deterministic ensemble filters, since no perturbed observations are employed. As in variational and ensemble data assimilation methods, the cost function is derived using a Gaussian probability density function framework. Like other ensemble data assimilation algorithms, the MLEF produces an estimate of the analysis uncertainty (e.g., analysis error covariance). In addition to the common use of ensembles in calculation of the forecast error covariance, the ensembles in MLEF are exploited to efficiently calculate the Hessian preconditioning and the gradient of the cost function. A sufficient number of iterative minimization steps is 2–3, because of superior Hessian preconditioning. The MLEF method is well suited for use with highly nonlinear observation operators, for a small additional computational cost of minimization. The consistent treatment of nonlinear observation operators through optimization is an advantage of the MLEF over other ensemble data assimilation algorithms. The cost of MLEF is comparable to the cost of existing ensemble Kalman filter algorithms. The method is directly applicable to most complex forecast models and observation operators. In this paper, the MLEF method is applied to data assimilation with the one-dimensional Korteweg–de Vries–Burgers equation. The tested observation operator is quadratic, in order to make the assimilation problem more challenging. The results illustrate the stability of the MLEF performance, as well as the benefit of the cost function minimization. The improvement is noted in terms of the rms error, as well as the analysis error covariance. The statistics of innovation vectors (observation minus forecast) also indicate a stable performance of the MLEF algorithm. Additional experiments suggest the amplified benefit of targeted observations in ensemble data assimilation.


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