Articles | Volume 3, issue 2
29 Nov 2010
 | 29 Nov 2010

Physically-based data assimilation

G. Levy, M. Coon, G. Nguyen, and D. Sulsky

Abstract. Ideally, a validation and assimilation scheme should maintain the physical principles embodied in the model and be able to evaluate and assimilate lower dimensional features (e.g., discontinuities) contained within a bulk simulation, even when these features are not directly observed or represented by model variables. We present such a scheme and suggest its potential to resolve or alleviate some outstanding problems that stem from making and applying required, yet often non-physical, assumptions and procedures in common operational data assimilation. As proof of concept, we use a sea-ice model with remotely sensed observations of leads in a one-step assimilation cycle. Using the new scheme in a sixteen day simulation experiment introduces model skill (against persistence) several days earlier than in the control run, improves the overall model skill and delays its drop off at later stages of the simulation. The potential and requirements to extend this scheme to different applications, and to both empirical and statistical multivariate and full cycle data assimilation schemes, are discussed.