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International Journal for Uncertainty Quantification

Impact factor: 1.000

ISSN Print: 2152-5080
ISSN Online: 2152-5099

Open Access

International Journal for Uncertainty Quantification

DOI: 10.1615/Int.J.UncertaintyQuantification.2015009880
pages 491-510


Adrian Sandu
Computational Science Laboratory, Department of Computer Science, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 2201 Knowledgeworks II, 2202 Kraft Drive, Blacksburg, Virginia 24060, USA
Haiyan Cheng
Department of Computer Science, Willamette University, 900 State Street, Salem, Oregon 97301, USA


Two families of methods are widely used in data assimilation: the four-dimensional variational (4D-Var) approach, and the ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) approach. The two families have been developed largely through parallel research efforts. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages. It is of interest to develop hybrid data assimilation algorithms that can combine the relative strengths of the two approaches. This paper proposes a subspace approach to investigate the theoretical equivalence between the suboptimal 4D-Var method (where only a small number of optimization iterations are performed) and the practical EnKF method (where only a small number of ensemble members are used) in a linear setting. The analysis motivates a new hybrid algorithm: the optimization directions obtained from a short window 4D-Var run are used to construct the EnKF initial ensemble. The proposed hybrid method is computationally less expensive than a full 4D-Var, as only short assimilation windows are considered. The hybrid method has the potential to perform better than the regular EnKF due to its look-ahead property. Numerical results show that the proposed hybrid ensemble filter method performs better than the regular EnKF method for the test problem considered.