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Asymptotic forecast uncertainty and the unstable subspace in the presence of additive model error

Grudzien, C., Carrassi, A. ORCID: and Bocquet, M. (2018) Asymptotic forecast uncertainty and the unstable subspace in the presence of additive model error. SIAM/ASA Journal on Uncertainty Quantification, 6 (4). pp. 1335-1363. ISSN 2166-2525

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1137/17M114073X


It is well understood that dynamic instability is among the primary drivers of forecast uncertainty in chaotic, physical systems. Data assimilation techniques have been designed to exploit this phenomenon, reducing the effective dimension of the data assimilation problem to the directions of rapidly growing errors. Recent mathematical work has, moreover, provided formal proofs of the central hypothesis of the assimilation in the unstable subspace methodology of Anna Trevisan and her collaborators: for filters and smoothers in perfect, linear, Gaussian models, the distribution of forecast errors asymptotically conforms to the unstable-neutral subspace. Specifically, the column span of the forecast and posterior error covariances asymptotically align with the span of backward Lyapunov vectors with nonnegative exponents. Earlier mathematical studies have focused on perfect models, and this current work now explores the relationship between dynamical instability, the precision of observations, and the evolution of forecast error in linear models with additive model error. We prove bounds for the asymptotic uncertainty, explicitly relating the rate of dynamical expansion, model precision, and observational accuracy. Formalizing this relationship, we provide a novel, necessary criterion for the boundedness of forecast errors. Furthermore, we numerically explore the relationship between observational design, dynamical instability, and filter boundedness. Additionally, we include a detailed introduction to the multiplicative ergodic theorem and to the theory and construction of Lyapunov vectors. While forecast error in the stable subspace may not generically vanish, we show that even without filtering, uncertainty remains uniformly bounded due its dynamical dissipation. However, the continuous reinjection of uncertainty from model errors may be excited by transient instabilities in the stable modes of high variance, rendering forecast uncertainty impractically large. In the context of ensemble data assimilation, this requires rectifying the rank of the ensemble-based gain to account for the growth of uncertainty beyond the unstable and neutral subspace, additionally correcting stable modes with frequent occurrences of positive local Lyapunov exponents that excite model errors.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:No Reading authors. Back catalogue items
Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO)
Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:90558
Publisher:Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics


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