Articles | Volume 20, issue 5
Research article
23 Oct 2013
Research article |  | 23 Oct 2013

Joint state and parameter estimation with an iterative ensemble Kalman smoother

M. Bocquet and P. Sakov

Abstract. Both ensemble filtering and variational data assimilation methods have proven useful in the joint estimation of state variables and parameters of geophysical models. Yet, their respective benefits and drawbacks in this task are distinct. An ensemble variational method, known as the iterative ensemble Kalman smoother (IEnKS) has recently been introduced. It is based on an adjoint model-free variational, but flow-dependent, scheme. As such, the IEnKS is a candidate tool for joint state and parameter estimation that may inherit the benefits from both the ensemble filtering and variational approaches.

In this study, an augmented state IEnKS is tested on its estimation of the forcing parameter of the Lorenz-95 model. Since joint state and parameter estimation is especially useful in applications where the forcings are uncertain but nevertheless determining, typically in atmospheric chemistry, the augmented state IEnKS is tested on a new low-order model that takes its meteorological part from the Lorenz-95 model, and its chemical part from the advection diffusion of a tracer. In these experiments, the IEnKS is compared to the ensemble Kalman filter, the ensemble Kalman smoother, and a 4D-Var, which are considered the methods of choice to solve these joint estimation problems. In this low-order model context, the IEnKS is shown to significantly outperform the other methods regardless of the length of the data assimilation window, and for present time analysis as well as retrospective analysis. Besides which, the performance of the IEnKS is even more striking on parameter estimation; getting close to the same performance with 4D-Var is likely to require both a long data assimilation window and a complex modeling of the background statistics.