Experiments in Fluids

, Volume 48, Issue 5, pp 915–925 | Cite as

A realtime observatory for laboratory simulation of planetary flows

  • Sai Ravela
  • John Marshall
  • Chris Hill
  • Andrew Wong
  • Scott Stransky
Research article


Motivated by the mid-latitude atmospheric circulation, we develop a system that uses observations from a differentially heated rotating annulus experiment to constrain a numerical simulation in real-time. The coupled physical-numerical system provides a tool to rapidly prototype new methods for state and parameter estimation, and facilitates the study of prediction, predictability, and transport of geophysical fluids where observations or numerical simulations would not independently suffice. A computer vision system is used to extract measurements from the physical simulation, which constrain the model-state of the MIT general circulation model in a hybrid data assimilation approach. Using a combination of parallelism, domain decomposition and an efficient scheme to select ensembles of model-states, we show that estimates that effectively track the fluid-state can be produced. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first realtime coupled system for this laboratory analog of planetary circulation.


Horizontal Velocity Ensemble Member Thermal Boundary Condition Baroclinic Instability Ensemble Kalman Filter 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work is funded by CNS-0540259 and NSF Grant CNS-0540248. The authors thank Ryan Abernathy for helping with the hardware platform development.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sai Ravela
    • 1
  • John Marshall
    • 1
  • Chris Hill
    • 1
  • Andrew Wong
    • 1
  • Scott Stransky
    • 1
  1. 1.Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary SciencesMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA

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