Data assimilation with correlated observation errors: experiments with a 1-D shallow water model
To link to this article DOI: 10.3402/tellusa.v65i0.19546
Remote sensing observations often have correlated errors, but the correlations are typically ignored in data assimilation for numerical weather prediction. The assumption of zero correlations is often used with data thinning methods, resulting in a loss of information. As operational centres move towards higher-resolution forecasting, there is a requirement to retain data providing detail on appropriate scales. Thus an alternative approach to dealing with observation error correlations is needed. In this article, we consider several approaches to approximating observation error correlation matrices: diagonal approximations, eigendecomposition approximations and Markov matrices. These approximations are applied in incremental variational assimilation experiments with a 1-D shallow water model using synthetic observations. Our experiments quantify analysis accuracy in comparison with a reference or ‘truth’ trajectory, as well as with analyses using the ‘true’ observation error covariance matrix. We show that it is often better to include an approximate correlation structure in the observation error covariance matrix than to incorrectly assume error independence. Furthermore, by choosing a suitable matrix approximation, it is feasible and computationally cheap to include error correlation structure in a variational data assimilation algorithm.