Ensemble-based data assimilation and the localisation problem
To link to this article DOI: 10.1002/wea.505
The “butterfly effect” is a popularly known paradigm; commonly it is said that when a butterfly flaps its wings in Brazil, it may cause a tornado in Texas. This essentially describes how weather forecasts can be extremely senstive to small changes in the given atmospheric data, or initial conditions, used in computer model simulations. In 1961 Edward Lorenz found, when running a weather model, that small changes in the initial conditions given to the model can, over time, lead to entriely different forecasts (Lorenz, 1963). This discovery highlights one of the major challenges in modern weather forecasting; that is to provide the computer model with the most accurately specified initial conditions possible. A process known as data assimilation seeks to minimize the errors in the given initial conditions and was, in 1911, described by Bjerkness as “the ultimate problem in meteorology” (Bjerkness, 1911).