Adaptive sampling with the ensemble transform Kalman filter Part I: Theoretical aspects

C. H. Bishop, B. J. Etherton, S. J. Majumdar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

949 Scopus citations


A suboptimal Kalman filter called the ensemble transform Kalman filter (ET KF) is introduced. Like other Kalman filters, it provides a framework for assimilating observations and also for estimating the effect of observations on forecast error covariance. It differs from other ensemble Kalman filters in that it uses ensemble transformation and a normalization to rapidly obtain the prediction error covariance matrix associated with a particular deployment of observational resources. This rapidity enables it to quickly assess the ability of a large number of future feasible sequences of observational networks to reduce forecast error variance. The ET KF was used by the National Centers for Environmental Prediction in the Winter Storm Reconnaissance missions of 1999 and 2000 to determine where aircraft should deploy dropwindsondes in order to improve 24-72-h forecasts over the continental United States. The ET KF may be applied to any well-constructed set of ensemble perturbations. The ET KF technique supercedes the ensemble transform (ET) targeting technique of Bishop and Toth. In the ET targeting formulation, the means by which observations reduced forecast error variance was not expressed mathematically. The mathematical representation of this process provided by the ET KF enables such things as the evaluation of the reduction in forecast error variance associated with individual flight tracks and assessments of the value of targeted observations that are distributed over significant time intervals. It also enables a serial targeting methodology whereby one can identify optimal observing sites given the location and error statistics of other observations. This allows the network designer to nonredundantly position targeted observations. Serial targeting can also be used to greatly reduce the computations required to identify optimal target sites. For these theoretical and practical reasons, the ET KF technique is more useful than the ET technique. The methodology is illustrated with observation system simulation experiments involving a barotropic numerical model of tropical cyclonelike vortices. These include preliminary empirical tests of ET KF predictions using ET KF. 3DVAR. and hybrid data assimilation schemes-the results of which look promising. To concisely describe the future feasible sequences of observations considered in adaptive sampling problems, an extension to Ide et al.'s unified notation for data assimilation is suggested.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)420-436
Number of pages17
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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