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Jeffrey L. Anderson

Abstract

A number of operational atmospheric prediction centers now produce ensemble forecasts of the atmosphere. Because of the high-dimensional phase spaces associated with operational forecast models, many centers use constraints derived from the dynamics of the forecast model to define a greatly reduced subspace from which ensemble initial conditions are chosen. For instance, the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts uses singular vectors of the forecast model and the National Centers for Environmental Prediction use the “breeding cycle” to determine a limited set of directions in phase space that are sampled by the ensemble forecast.

The use of dynamical constraints on the selection of initial conditions for ensemble forecasts is examined in a perfect model study using a pair of three-variable dynamical systems and a prescribed observational error distribution. For these systems, one can establish that the direct use of dynamical constraints has no impact on the error of the ensemble mean forecast and a negative impact on forecasts of higher-moment quantities such as forecast spread. Simple examples are presented to show that this is not a result of the use of low-order dynamical systems but is instead related to the fundamental nature of the dynamics of these particular low-order systems themselves. Unless operational prediction models have fundamentally different dynamics, this study suggests that the use of dynamically constrained ensembles may not be justified. Further studies with more realistic prediction models are needed to evaluate this possibility.

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Jeffrey L. Anderson

Abstract

Many methods using ensemble integrations of prediction models as integral parts of data assimilation have appeared in the atmospheric and oceanic literature. In general, these methods have been derived from the Kalman filter and have been known as ensemble Kalman filters. A more general class of methods including these ensemble Kalman filter methods is derived starting from the nonlinear filtering problem. When working in a joint state–observation space, many features of ensemble filtering algorithms are easier to derive and compare. The ensemble filter methods derived here make a (local) least squares assumption about the relation between prior distributions of an observation variable and model state variables. In this context, the update procedure applied when a new observation becomes available can be described in two parts. First, an update increment is computed for each prior ensemble estimate of the observation variable by applying a scalar ensemble filter. Second, a linear regression of the prior ensemble sample of each state variable on the observation variable is performed to compute update increments for each state variable ensemble member from corresponding observation variable increments. The regression can be applied globally or locally using Gaussian kernel methods.

Several previously documented ensemble Kalman filter methods, the perturbed observation ensemble Kalman filter and ensemble adjustment Kalman filter, are developed in this context. Some new ensemble filters that extend beyond the Kalman filter context are also discussed. The two-part method can provide a computationally efficient implementation of ensemble filters and allows more straightforward comparison of methods since they differ only in the solution of a scalar filtering problem.

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Jeffrey L. Anderson

Abstract

The binned probability ensemble (BPE) technique is presented as a method for producing forecasts of the probability distribution of a variable using an ensemble of numerical model integrations. The ensemble forecasts are used to partition the real line into a number of bins, each of which has an equal probability of containing the “true” forecast. The method is tested for both a simple low-order dynamical system and a general circulation model (GCM) forced with observed sea surface temperatures (an ensemble of Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project integrations). The BPE method can also be used to calculate the probability that probabilistic ensemble forecasts are consistent with the verifying observations. The method is not sensitive to the fact that the characteristics of the forecast probability distribution may change drastically for different initial condition (or boundary condition) probability distributions. For example, the method is capable of evaluating whether the variance of a set of ensemble forecasts is consistent with the verifying observed variance. Applying the method to the ensemble of boundary-forced GCM integrations demonstrates that the GCM produces probabilistic forecasts with too little variability for upper-level dynamical fields. Operational weather prediction centers including the U.K. Meteorological Office, the European Centre for Medium-Range Forecasts, and the National Centers for Environmental Prediction have been applying this method, referred to by them as Talagrand diagrams, to the verification of operational ensemble predictions. The BPE method only evaluates the consistency of ensemble predictions and observations and should be used in conjunction with additional verification tools to provide a complete assessment of a set of probabilistic forecasts.

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Jeffrey L. Anderson

Abstract

An extension to standard ensemble Kalman filter algorithms that can improve performance for non-Gaussian prior distributions, non-Gaussian likelihoods, and bounded state variables is described. The algorithm exploits the capability of the rank histogram filter (RHF) to represent arbitrary prior distributions for observed variables. The rank histogram algorithm can be applied directly to state variables to produce posterior marginal ensembles without the need for regression that is part of standard ensemble filters. These marginals are used to adjust the marginals obtained from a standard ensemble filter that uses regression to update state variables. The final posterior ensemble is obtained by doing an ordered replacement of the posterior marginal ensemble values from a standard ensemble filter with the values obtained from the rank histogram method applied directly to state variables; the algorithm is referred to as the marginal adjustment rank histogram filter (MARHF). Applications to idealized bivariate problems and low-order dynamical systems show that the MARHF can produce better results than standard ensemble methods for priors that are non-Gaussian. Like the original RHF, the MARHF can also make use of arbitrary non-Gaussian observation likelihoods. The MARHF also has advantages for problems with bounded state variables, for instance, the concentration of an atmospheric tracer. Bounds can be automatically respected in the posterior ensembles. With an efficient implementation of the MARHF, the additional cost has better scaling than the standard RHF.

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Jeffrey L. Anderson and Stephen L. Anderson

Abstract

Knowledge of the probability distribution of initial conditions is central to almost all practical studies of predictability and to improvements in stochastic prediction of the atmosphere. Traditionally, data assimilation for atmospheric predictability or prediction experiments has attempted to find a single “best” estimate of the initial state. Additional information about the initial condition probability distribution is then obtained primarily through heuristic techniques that attempt to generate representative perturbations around the best estimate. However, a classical theory for generating an estimate of the complete probability distribution of an initial state given a set of observations exists. This nonlinear filtering theory can be applied to unify the data assimilation and ensemble generation problem and to produce superior estimates of the probability distribution of the initial state of the atmosphere (or ocean) on regional or global scales. A Monte Carlo implementation of the fully nonlinear filter has been developed and applied to several low-order models. The method is able to produce assimilations with small ensemble mean errors while also providing random samples of the initial condition probability distribution. The Monte Carlo method can be applied in models that traditionally require the application of initialization techniques without any explicit initialization. Initial application to larger models is promising, but a number of challenges remain before the method can be extended to large realistic forecast models.

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Jeffrey L. Anderson and Nancy Collins

Abstract

A variant of a least squares ensemble (Kalman) filter that is suitable for implementation on parallel architectures is presented. This parallel ensemble filter produces results that are identical to those from sequential algorithms already described in the literature when forward observation operators that relate the model state vector to the expected value of observations are linear (although actual results may differ due to floating point arithmetic round-off error). For nonlinear forward observation operators, the sequential and parallel algorithms solve different linear approximations to the full problem but produce qualitatively similar results. The parallel algorithm can be implemented to produce identical answers with the state variable prior ensembles arbitrarily partitioned onto a set of processors for the assimilation step (no caveat on round-off is needed for this result).

Example implementations of the parallel algorithm are described for environments with low (high) communication latency and cost. Hybrids of these implementations and the traditional sequential ensemble filter can be designed to optimize performance for a variety of parallel computing environments. For large models on machines with good communications, it is possible to implement the parallel algorithm to scale efficiently to thousands of processors while bit-wise reproducing the results from a single processor implementation. Timing results on several Linux clusters are presented from an implementation appropriate for machines with low-latency communication.

Most ensemble Kalman filter variants that have appeared in the literature differ only in the details of how a prior ensemble estimate of a scalar observation is updated given an observed value and the observational error distribution. These details do not impact other parts of either the sequential or parallel filter algorithms here, so a variety of ensemble filters including ensemble square root and perturbed observations filters can be used with all the implementations described.

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Sukyoung Lee and Jeffrey L. Anderson

Abstract

A forced, nonlinear barotropic model on the sphere is shown to simulate some of the structure of the observed Northern Hemisphere midlatitude storm tracks with reasonable accuracy. For the parameter range chosen, the model has no unstable modes with significant amplitude in the storm track regions; however, several decaying modes with structures similar to the storm track are discovered. The model's midlatitude storm tracks also coincide with the location of a waveguide that is obtained by assuming that the horizontal variation of the time-mean flow is small compared with the scale of the transient eddies. Since the model is able to mimic the behavior of the observed storm tracks without any baroclinic dynamics, it is argued that the barotropic waveguide effects of the time-mean background flow acting on individual eddies are partially responsible for the observed storm track structure.

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Lili Lei and Jeffrey L. Anderson

Abstract

The empirical localization algorithm described here uses the output from an observing system simulation experiment (OSSE) and constructs localization functions that minimize the root-mean-square (RMS) difference between the truth and the posterior ensemble mean for state variables. This algorithm can automatically provide an estimate of the localization function and does not require empirical tuning of the localization scale. It can compute an appropriate localization function for any potential observation type and kind of state variable. The empirical localization algorithm is investigated in the Community Atmosphere Model, version 5 (CAM5). The empirical localization function (ELF) is computed for the horizontal and vertical separately so that the vertical localization is explored explicitly. The horizontal and vertical ELFs are also computed for different geographic regions. The ELFs varying with region have advantages over the single global ELF in the horizontal and vertical, because different localization functions are more effective in different regions. The ELFs computed from an OSSE can be used as the localization in a subsequent OSSE. After three iterations, the ELFs appear to have converged. When used as localization in an OSSE, the converged ELFs produce a significantly smaller RMS error of temperature and zonal and meridional winds than the best Gaspari–Cohn (GC) localization for a dependent verification period using the observations from the original OSSE, and a similar RMS error to the best GC for an independent verification period. The converged ELFs have a significantly smaller RMS error of surface pressure than the best GC for both dependent and independent verification periods.

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Lili Lei and Jeffrey L. Anderson

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Two techniques for estimating good localization functions for serial ensemble Kalman filters are compared in observing system simulation experiments (OSSEs) conducted with the dynamical core of an atmospheric general circulation model. The first technique, the global group filter (GGF), minimizes the root-mean-square (RMS) difference between the estimated regression coefficients using a hierarchical ensemble filter. The second, the empirical localization function (ELF), minimizes the RMS difference between the true values of the state variables and the posterior ensemble mean. Both techniques provide an estimate of the localization function for an observation’s impact on a state variable with few a priori assumptions about the localization function. The ELF localizations can have values larger than 1.0 at small distances, indicating that this technique addresses localization but also can correct the prior ensemble spread in the same way as a variance inflation when needed. OSSEs using ELF localizations generally have smaller root-mean-square error (RMSE) than the optimal Gaspari and Cohn (GC) localization function obtained by empirically tuning the GC width. The localization functions estimated by the GGF are broader than those from the ELF, and the OSSEs with the GGF localization generally have larger RMSE than the optimal GC localization function. The GGFs are too broad because of spurious correlation biases that occur in the OSSEs. These errors can be reduced by using a stochastic EnKF with perturbed observations instead of a deterministic EAKF.

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Jonathan Poterjoy and Jeffrey L. Anderson

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This study presents the first application of a localized particle filter (PF) for data assimilation in a high-dimensional geophysical model. Particle filters form Monte Carlo approximations of model probability densities conditioned on observations, while making no assumptions about the underlying error distribution. Unlike standard PFs, the local PF uses a localization function to reduce the influence of distant observations on state variables, which significantly decreases the number of particles required to maintain the filter’s stability. Because the local PF operates effectively using small numbers of particles, it provides a possible alternative to Gaussian filters, such as ensemble Kalman filters, for large geophysical models. In the current study, the local PF is compared with stochastic and deterministic ensemble Kalman filters using a simplified atmospheric general circulation model. The local PF is found to provide stable filtering results over yearlong data assimilation experiments using only 25 particles. The local PF also outperforms the Gaussian filters when observation networks include measurements that have non-Gaussian errors or relate nonlinearly to the model state, like remotely sensed data used frequently in atmospheric analyses. Results from this study encourage further testing of the local PF on more complex geophysical systems, such as weather prediction models.

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