Nonlinear effects in 4D-Var

TitleNonlinear effects in 4D-Var
Publication TypeTechnical memorandum
Date Published09/2018
Secondary TitleECMWF Technical Memoranda
AuthorsBonavita, M, Lean, P, Hólm, E

The ability of a data assimilation system to deal effectively with nonlinearities arising from the prognostic model or the relationship between the control variables and the available observations has received a lot of attention in theoretical studies based on very simplified test models. Less work has been done to quantify the importance of nonlinearities in operational, state-of-the-art global data assimilation systems. In this paper, we analyse the nonlinear effects present in ECMWF 4D-Var and evaluate the ability of the incremental formulation to solve the nonlinear assimilation problem in a realistic NWP environment. We find that nonlinearities have increased over the years due to a combination of increased model resolution and the ever-growing importance of observations that are nonlinearly related to the state. Incremental 4D-Var is well suited for dealing with these nonlinear effects, but at the cost of increasing the number of outer loop relinearisations. We then discuss strategies for accommodating the increasing number of sequential outer loops in the tight schedules of operational global NWP.

PDF icon Download (2.45 MB)