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P. L. Houtekamer
,
Bin He
, and
Herschel L. Mitchell

Abstract

Since mid-February 2013, the ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) in operation at the Canadian Meteorological Centre (CMC) has been using a 600 × 300 global horizontal grid and 74 vertical levels. This yields 5.4 × 107 model coordinates. The EnKF has 192 members and uses seven time levels, spaced 1 h apart, for the time interpolation in the 6-h assimilation window. It follows that over 7 × 1010 values are required to specify an ensemble of trial field trajectories. This paper focuses on numerical and computational aspects of the EnKF. In response to the increasing computational challenge posed by the ever more ambitious configurations, an ever larger fraction of the EnKF software system has gradually been parallelized over the past decade. In a strong scaling experiment, the way in which the execution time decreases as larger numbers of processes are used is investigated. In fact, using a substantial fraction of one of the CMC's computers, very short execution times are achieved. As it would thus appear that the CMC's computers can handle more demanding configurations, weak scaling experiments are also performed. Here, both the size of the problem and the number of processes are simultaneously increased. The parallel algorithm responds well to an increase in either the number of ensemble members or the number of model coordinates. A substantial increase (by an order of magnitude) in the number of assimilated observations would, however, be more problematic. Thus, to the extent that this depends on computational aspects, it appears that the meteorological quality of the Canadian operational EnKF can be further improved.

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Mark Buehner
,
P. L. Houtekamer
,
Cecilien Charette
,
Herschel L. Mitchell
, and
Bin He

Abstract

An intercomparison of the Environment Canada variational and ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) data assimilation systems is presented in the context of global deterministic NWP. In an EnKF experiment having the same spatial resolution as the inner loop in the four-dimensional variational data assimilation system (4D-Var), the mean of each analysis ensemble is used to initialize the higher-resolution deterministic forecasts. Five different variational data assimilation experiments are also conducted. These include both 4D-Var and 3D-Var (with first guess at appropriate time) experiments using either (i) prescribed background-error covariances similar to those used operationally, which are static in time and include horizontally homogeneous and isotropic correlations; or (ii) flow-dependent covariances computed from the EnKF background ensembles with spatial covariance localization applied. The fifth variational data assimilation experiment is a new approach called the Ensemble-4D-Var (En-4D-Var). This approach uses 4D flow-dependent background-error covariances estimated from EnKF ensembles to produce a 4D analysis without the need for tangent-linear or adjoint versions of the forecast model. In this first part of a two-part paper, results from a series of idealized assimilation experiments are presented. In these experiments, only a single observation or vertical profile of observations is assimilated to explore the impact of various fundamental differences among the EnKF and the various variational data assimilation approaches considered. In particular, differences in the application of covariance localization in the EnKF and variational approaches are shown to have a significant impact on the assimilation of satellite radiance observations. The results also demonstrate that 4D-Var and the EnKF can both produce similar 4D background-error covariances within a 6-h assimilation window. In the second part, results from medium-range deterministic forecasts for the study period of February 2007 are presented for the EnKF and the five variational data assimilation approaches considered.

Full access
Mark Buehner
,
P. L. Houtekamer
,
Cecilien Charette
,
Herschel L. Mitchell
, and
Bin He

Abstract

An intercomparison of the Environment Canada variational and ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) data assimilation systems is presented in the context of producing global deterministic numerical weather forecasts. Five different variational data assimilation approaches are considered including four-dimensional variational data assimilation (4D-Var) and three-dimensional variational data assimilation (3D-Var) with first guess at the appropriate time (3D-FGAT). Also included among these is a new approach, called Ensemble-4D-Var (En-4D-Var), that uses 4D ensemble background-error covariances from the EnKF. A description of the experimental configurations and results from single-observation experiments are presented in the first part of this two-part paper. The present paper focuses on results from medium-range deterministic forecasts initialized with analyses from the EnKF and the five variational data assimilation approaches for the period of February 2007. All experiments assimilate exactly the same full set of meteorological observations and use the same configuration of the forecast model to produce global deterministic medium-range forecasts.

The quality of forecasts in the short (medium) range obtained by using the EnKF ensemble mean analysis is slightly degraded (improved) in the extratropics relative to using the 4D-Var analysis with background-error covariances similar to those used operationally. The use of the EnKF flow-dependent error covariances in the variational system (4D-Var or 3D-FGAT) leads to large (modest) forecast improvements in the southern extratropics (tropics) as compared with using covariances similar to the operational system (a gain of up to 9 h at day 5). The En-4D-Var approach leads to (i) either improved or similar forecast quality when compared with the 4D-Var experiment similar to the currently operational system, (ii) slightly worse forecast quality when compared with the 4D-Var experiment with EnKF error covariances, and (iii) generally similar forecast quality when compared with the EnKF experiment.

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P. L. Houtekamer
,
Bin He
,
Dominik Jacques
,
Ron McTaggart-Cowan
,
Leo Separovic
,
Paul A. Vaillancourt
,
Ayrton Zadra
, and
Xingxiu Deng

Abstract

An important step in an ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) algorithm is the integration of an ensemble of short-range forecasts with a numerical weather prediction (NWP) model. A multiphysics approach is used in the Canadian global EnKF system. This paper explores whether the many integrations with different versions of the model physics can be used to obtain more accurate and more reliable probability distributions for the model parameters. Some model parameters have a continuous range of possible values. Other parameters are categorical and act as switches between different parameterizations. In an evolutionary algorithm, the member configurations that contribute most to the quality of the ensemble are duplicated, while adding a small perturbation, at the expense of configurations that perform poorly. The evolutionary algorithm is being used in the migration of the EnKF to a new version of the Canadian NWP model with upgraded physics. The quality of configurations is measured with both a deterministic and an ensemble score, using the observations assimilated in the EnKF system. When using the ensemble score in the evaluation, the algorithm is shown to be able to converge to non-Gaussian distributions. However, for several model parameters, there is not enough information to arrive at improved distributions. The optimized system features slight reductions in biases for radiance measurements that are sensitive to humidity. Modest improvements are also seen in medium-range ensemble forecasts.

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