An efficient bi-gaussian ensemble kalman filter for satellite infrared radiance data assimilation

Man Yau Chan, Jeffrey L. Anderson, Xingchao Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The introduction of infrared water vapor channel radiance ensemble data assimilation (DA) has improved numerical weather forecasting at operational centers. Further improvements might be possible through extending ensemble data assimilation methods to better assimilate infrared satellite radiances. Here, we will illustrate that ensemble statistics under clear-sky conditions are different from cloudy conditions. This difference suggests that extending the ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) to handle bi-Gaussian prior distributions may yield better results than the standard EnKF. In this study, we propose a computationally efficient bi-Gaussian ensemble Kalman filter (BGEnKF) to handle bi-Gaussian prior distributions. As a proof-of-concept, we used the 40-variable Lorenz 1996 model as a proxy to examine the impacts of assimilating infrared radiances with the BGEnKF and EnKF. A nonlinear observation operator that constructs radiance-like bimodal ensemble statistics was used to generate and assimilate pseudoradiances. Inflation was required for both methods to effectively assimilate pseudoradiances. In both 800- and 20-member experiments, the BGEnKF generally outperformed the EnKF. The relative performance of the BGEnKF with respect to the EnKF improved when the observation spacing and time between DA cycles (cycling interval) are increased from small values. The relative performance then degraded when observation spacing and cycling interval become sufficiently large. The BGEnKF generated less noise than the EnKF, suggesting that the BGEnKF produces more balanced analysis states than the EnKF. This proof-of-concept study motivates future investigation into using the BGEnKF to assimilate infrared observations into high-order numerical weather models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5087-5104
Number of pages18
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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