Ocean Dynamics

, Volume 65, Issue 7, pp 1001–1015 | Cite as

Coastal ocean data assimilation using a multi-scale three-dimensional variational scheme

  • Zhijin Li
  • James C. McWilliams
  • Kayo Ide
  • John D. Farrara
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Coastal Ocean Forecasting Science supported by the GODAE OceanView Coastal Oceans and Shelf Seas Task Team (COSS-TT)


A multi-scale three-dimensional variational scheme (MS-3DVAR) is implemented to improve the effectiveness of the assimilation of both very sparse and high-resolution observations into models with resolutions down to 1 km. The improvements are realized through the use of background error covariances of multi-decorrelation length scales and by reducing the inherent observational representativeness errors. MS-3DVAR is applied to coastal ocean data assimilation to handle the wide range of spatial scales that exist in both the dynamics and observations. In the implementation presented here, the cost function consists of two components for large and small scales, and MS-3DVAR is implemented sequentially from large to small scales. A set of observing system simulation experiments (OSSEs) are performed to illustrate the advantages of MS-3DVAR over conventional 3DVAR in assimilating two of the most common types of observations—sparse vertical profiles and high-resolution surface measurements—simultaneously. One month of results from an operational implementation show that both the analysis error and bias are reduced more effectively when using MS-3DVAR.


Multi-scale data assimilation Variational data assimilation Fine-resolution model Ocean prediction Observing system Coastal ocean 



The research described in this publication was carried out, in part, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). We gratefully acknowledge the multi-year support from Dr. Yi Chao, Remote Sensing Solutions, Inc., to the development of the MS-3DVAR system for the SCB region and also many discussions with him that help improve the system. This research was supported in part by the Office of Naval Research (N00014-12-1-093) and (N00014-10-1-0557). The authors thank the anonymous reviewers for comments that were very helpful in improving the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zhijin Li
    • 1
  • James C. McWilliams
    • 2
  • Kayo Ide
    • 3
  • John D. Farrara
    • 4
  1. 1.Jet Propulsion LaboratoryCalifornia Institute of TechnologyPasadenaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic SciencesUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, Center for Scientific Computation and Mathematical Modeling, Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, Institute for Physical Science and TechnologyUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA
  4. 4.Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science and EngineeringUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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