Adaptive observations in the context of 4D-Var data assimilation

Dacian N. Daescu, I.M. Navon

The design of adaptive observations strategies must account for the particular properties of the data assimilation method. A new adjoint sensitivity approach to the targeted observations problem is proposed in the context of four-dimensional variational data assimilation (4D-Var). The method is based on a periodic update of the adjoint sensitivity field that takes into account the interaction between time dis- tributed adaptive and routine observations. Information provided by all previously located observations is used to identify best locations for new targeted observations. Adaptive observations at distinct instants in time are selected in a sequential man- ner such that the method is only suboptimal. The selection algorithm proceeds backward in time and requires only one additional adjoint model integration in the assimilation window. Therefore, the method is very efficient and is suitable for practical applications. A comparative performance analysis is presented using the traditional adjoint sensitivity method as well as the total energy singular vectors technique as alternative adaptive strategies. Numerical experiments are performed in the twin experiments framework using a two-dimensional global shallow water model in spherical coordinates and an explicit Turkel-Zwas discretization scheme. Data from a NASA 500mb analysis valid for 00Z 16 Mar 2001 6h obtained with the GEOS-3 model was used to specify the geopotential height at the initial time and the initial velocities were obtained from a geostrophic balance. Numerical results show that the new adaptive observations approach outperforms traditional target- ing methods in terms of forecast error reduction at the verification time and its implementation is feasible for large scale atmospheric models.