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


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.

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