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Problems in four-dimensional data assimilation

Bengtsson, L. (1976) Problems in four-dimensional data assimilation. In: ECMWF Seminar on Scientific Foundation of Medium-Range Weather Forecasts. ECMWF Seminar Proceedings. ECMWF, Reading, UK, pp. 113-138.

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With the introduction of new observing systems based on asynoptic observations, the analysis problem has changed in character. In the near future we may expect that a considerable part of meteorological observations will be unevenly distributed in four dimensions, i.e. three dimensions in space and one in time. The term analysis, or objective analysis in meteorology, means the process of interpolating observed meteorological observations from unevenly distributed locations to a network of regularly spaced grid points. Necessitated by the requirement of numerical weather prediction models to solve the governing finite difference equations on such a grid lattice, the objective analysis is a three-dimensional (or mostly two-dimensional) interpolation technique. As a consequence of the structure of the conventional synoptic network with separated data-sparse and data-dense areas, four-dimensional analysis has in fact been intensively used for many years. Weather services have thus based their analysis not only on synoptic data at the time of the analysis and climatology, but also on the fields predicted from the previous observation hour and valid at the time of the analysis. The inclusion of the time dimension in objective analysis will be called four-dimensional data assimilation. From one point of view it seems possible to apply the conventional technique on the new data sources by simply reducing the time interval in the analysis-forecasting cycle. This could in fact be justified also for the conventional observations. We have a fairly good coverage of surface observations 8 times a day and several upper air stations are making radiosonde and radiowind observations 4 times a day. If we have a 3-hour step in the analysis-forecasting cycle instead of 12 hours, which is applied most often, we may without any difficulties treat all observations as synoptic. No observation would thus be more than 90 minutes off time and the observations even during strong transient motion would fall within a horizontal mesh of 500 km * 500 km.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Environmental Systems Science Centre
Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:31958

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