Four-dimensional variational data assimilation (4DVAR) is a powerful tool for data assimilation in meteorology and oceanography. However, a major hurdle in use of 4DVAR for realistic general circulation models is the dimension of the control space (generally equal to the size of the model state variable and typically of order 107–108) and the high computational cost in computing the cost function and its gradient that require integration model and its adjoint model.
In this paper, we propose a 4DVAR approach based on proper orthogonal decomposition (POD). POD is an efficient way to carry out reduced order modelling by identifying the few most energetic modes in a sequence of snapshots from a time-dependent system, and providing a means of obtaining a low-dimensional description of the system's dynamics. The POD-based 4DVAR not only reduces the dimension of control space, but also reduces the size of dynamical model, both in dramatic ways. The novelty of our approach also consists in the inclusion of adaptability, applied when in the process of iterative control the new control variables depart significantly from the ones on which the POD model was based upon. In addition, these approaches also allow to conveniently constructing the adjoint model.
The proposed POD-based 4DVAR methods are tested and demonstrated using a reduced gravity wave ocean model in Pacific domain in the context of identical twin data assimilation experiments. A comparison with data assimilation experiments in the full model space shows that with an appropriate selection of the basis functions the optimization in the POD space is able to provide accurate results at a reduced computational cost. The POD-based 4DVAR methods have the potential to approximate the performance of full order 4DVAR with less than 1/100 computer time of the full order 4DVAR. The HFTN (Hessian-free truncated-Newton)algorithm benefits most from the order reduction (see (Int. J. Numer. Meth. Fluids, in press)) since computational savings are achieved both in the outer and inner iterations of this method. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.