An Ensemble-Based Four-Dimensional Variational Data Assimilation Scheme. Part I: Technical Formulation and Preliminary Test

Chengsi Liu; Qingnong Xiao; Bin Wang
September 2008
Monthly Weather Review;Sep2008, Vol. 136 Issue 9, p3363
Academic Journal
Applying a flow-dependent background error covariance (&BsansserB; matrix) in variational data assimilation has been a topic of interest among researchers in recent years. In this paper, an ensemble-based four-dimensional variational (En4DVAR) algorithm, designed by the authors, is presented that uses a flow-dependent background error covariance matrix constructed by ensemble forecasts and performs 4DVAR optimization to produce a balanced analysis. A great advantage of this En4DVAR design over standard 4DVAR methods is that the tangent linear and adjoint models can be avoided in its formulation and implementation. In addition, it can be easily incorporated into variational data assimilation systems that are already in use at operational centers and among the research community. A one-dimensional shallow water model was used for preliminary tests of the En4DVAR scheme. Compared with standard 4DVAR, the En4DVAR converges well and can produce results that are as good as those with 4DVAR but with far less computation cost in its minimization. In addition, a comparison of the results from En4DVAR with those from other data assimilation schemes [e.g., 3DVAR and ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF)] is made. The results show that the En4DVAR yields an analysis that is comparable to the widely used variational or ensemble data assimilation schemes and can be a promising approach for real-time applications. In addition, experiments were carried out to test the sensitivities of EnKF and En4DVAR, whose background error covariance is estimated from the same ensemble forecasts. The experiments indicated that En4DVAR obtained reasonably sound analysis even with larger observation error, higher observation frequency, and more unbalanced background field.


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