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Atmospheric Data Assimilation with an Ensemble Kalman Filter: Results with Real Observations

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  • 1 Meteorological Service of Canada, Dorval, Québec, Canada
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Abstract

An ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) has been implemented for atmospheric data assimilation. It assimilates observations from a fairly complete observational network with a forecast model that includes a standard operational set of physical parameterizations. To obtain reasonable results with a limited number of ensemble members, severe horizontal and vertical covariance localizations have been used.

It is observed that the error growth in the data assimilation cycle is mainly due to model error. An isotropic parameterization, similar to the forecast-error parameterization in variational algorithms, is used to represent model error. After some adjustment, it is possible to obtain innovation statistics that agree with the ensemble-based estimate of the innovation amplitudes for winds and temperature. Currently, no model error is added for the humidity variable, and, consequently, the ensemble spread for humidity is too small. After about 5 days of cycling, fairly stable global filter statistics are obtained with no sign of filter divergence.

The quality of the ensemble mean background field, as verified using radiosonde observations, is similar to that obtained using a 3D variational procedure. In part, this is likely due to the form chosen for the parameterized model error. Nevertheless, the degree of similarity is surprising given that the background-error statistics used by the two procedures are rather different, with generally larger background errors being used by the variational scheme.

A set of 5-day integrations has been started from the ensemble of initial conditions provided by the EnKF. For the middle and lower troposphere, the growth rates of the perturbations are somewhat smaller than the growth rate of the actual ensemble mean error. For the upper levels, the perturbation patterns decay for about 3 days as a consequence of diffusive model dynamics. These decaying perturbations tend to severely underestimate the actual error that grows rapidly near the model top.

Corresponding author address: P. L. Houtekamer, Direction de la Recherche en Météorologie, 2121 Route Trans-Canadienne, Dorval, Québec, H9P 1J3, Canada. Email: peter.houtekamer@ec.gc.ca

Abstract

An ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) has been implemented for atmospheric data assimilation. It assimilates observations from a fairly complete observational network with a forecast model that includes a standard operational set of physical parameterizations. To obtain reasonable results with a limited number of ensemble members, severe horizontal and vertical covariance localizations have been used.

It is observed that the error growth in the data assimilation cycle is mainly due to model error. An isotropic parameterization, similar to the forecast-error parameterization in variational algorithms, is used to represent model error. After some adjustment, it is possible to obtain innovation statistics that agree with the ensemble-based estimate of the innovation amplitudes for winds and temperature. Currently, no model error is added for the humidity variable, and, consequently, the ensemble spread for humidity is too small. After about 5 days of cycling, fairly stable global filter statistics are obtained with no sign of filter divergence.

The quality of the ensemble mean background field, as verified using radiosonde observations, is similar to that obtained using a 3D variational procedure. In part, this is likely due to the form chosen for the parameterized model error. Nevertheless, the degree of similarity is surprising given that the background-error statistics used by the two procedures are rather different, with generally larger background errors being used by the variational scheme.

A set of 5-day integrations has been started from the ensemble of initial conditions provided by the EnKF. For the middle and lower troposphere, the growth rates of the perturbations are somewhat smaller than the growth rate of the actual ensemble mean error. For the upper levels, the perturbation patterns decay for about 3 days as a consequence of diffusive model dynamics. These decaying perturbations tend to severely underestimate the actual error that grows rapidly near the model top.

Corresponding author address: P. L. Houtekamer, Direction de la Recherche en Météorologie, 2121 Route Trans-Canadienne, Dorval, Québec, H9P 1J3, Canada. Email: peter.houtekamer@ec.gc.ca

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