Four-dimensional data assimilation and balanced dynamics
Neef, L. J., Polavarapu, S. M. and Shepherd, T. G. (2006) Four-dimensional data assimilation and balanced dynamics. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 63 (7). pp. 1840-1858. ISSN 1520-0469
To link to this article DOI: 10.1175/JAS3714.1
The problem of spurious excitation of gravity waves in the context of four-dimensional data assimilation is investigated using a simple model of balanced dynamics. The model admits a chaotic vortical mode coupled to a comparatively fast gravity wave mode, and can be initialized such that the model evolves on a so-called slow manifold, where the fast motion is suppressed. Identical twin assimilation experiments are performed, comparing the extended and ensemble Kalman filters (EKF and EnKF, respectively). The EKF uses a tangent linear model (TLM) to estimate the evolution of forecast error statistics in time, whereas the EnKF uses the statistics of an ensemble of nonlinear model integrations. Specifically, the case is examined where the true state is balanced, but observation errors project onto all degrees of freedom, including the fast modes. It is shown that the EKF and EnKF will assimilate observations in a balanced way only if certain assumptions hold, and that, outside of ideal cases (i.e., with very frequent observations), dynamical balance can easily be lost in the assimilation. For the EKF, the repeated adjustment of the covariances by the assimilation of observations can easily unbalance the TLM, and destroy the assumptions on which balanced assimilation rests. It is shown that an important factor is the choice of initial forecast error covariance matrix. A balance-constrained EKF is described and compared to the standard EKF, and shown to offer significant improvement for observation frequencies where balance in the standard EKF is lost. The EnKF is advantageous in that balance in the error covariances relies only on a balanced forecast ensemble, and that the analysis step is an ensemble-mean operation. Numerical experiments show that the EnKF may be preferable to the EKF in terms of balance, though its validity is limited by ensemble size. It is also found that overobserving can lead to a more unbalanced forecast ensemble and thus to an unbalanced analysis.