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Zhiyong Meng and Fuqing Zhang

1. Introduction The accuracy of numerical weather prediction (NWP) depends critically on the qualities of the initial conditions and the forecast model. The initial conditions of an NWP model usually come from data assimilation, a procedure that aims to estimate the state and uncertainty of the atmosphere as accurately as possible by combining all available information (including both model forecasts and observations, and their respective uncertainties). In the data assimilation community, the

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