Rigorous evaluation of a fraternal twin ocean OSSE system for the open Gulf of Mexico

Jr R. Halliwell, A. Srinivasan, V. Kourafalou, H. Yang, D. Willey, M. Le Hénaff, R. Atlas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


A new fraternal twin ocean observing system simulation experiment (OSSE) system is validated in a Gulf of Mexico domain. It is the first ocean system that takes full advantage of design criteria and rigorous evaluation procedures developed to validate atmosphere OSSE systems that have not been fully implemented for the ocean. These procedures are necessary to determine a priori that the OSSE system does not overestimate or underestimate observing system impacts. The new system consists of 1) a nature run (NR) stipulated to represent the true ocean, 2) a data assimilation system consisting of a second ocean model (the "forecast model") coupled to a new ocean data assimilation system, and 3) software to simulate observations from the NR and to add realistic errors. The system design is described to illustrate the requirements of a validated OSSE system. The chosen NR reproduces the climatology and variability of ocean phenomena with sufficient realism. Although the same ocean model type is used (the "fraternal twin" approach), the forecast model is configured differently so that it approximately satisfies the requirement that differences (errors) with respect to the NR grow at the same rate as errors that develop between state-of-the-art ocean models and the true ocean. Rigorous evaluation procedures developed for atmospheric OSSEs are then applied by first performing observing system experiments (OSEs) to evaluate one or more existing observing systems. OSSEs are then performed that are identical except for the assimilation of synthetic observations simulated from the NR. Very similar impact assessments were realized between each OSE-OSSE pair, thus validating the system without the need for calibration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-130
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ocean Engineering
  • Atmospheric Science


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