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Geoscientific Model Development An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Development and technical paper 13 Mar 2019

Development and technical paper | 13 Mar 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Geoscientific Model Development (GMD).

A reduced-order Kalman smoother for (paleo-)ocean state estimation: assessment and application to the LGM

Charlotte Breitkreuz, André Paul, Stefan Mulitza, Javier García-Pintado, and Michael Schulz Charlotte Breitkreuz et al.
  • MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences and Faculty of Geosciences, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany

Abstract. Combining ocean models and proxy data via data assimilation is a powerful means to obtain more reliable estimates of past ocean states, but studies using data assimilation for paleo-ocean state estimation are rare. A few studies used the adjoint method, also called 4D-Var, to estimate the state of the ocean during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). The adjoint method, however, requires the adjoint of the model code, which is not easily obtained for most models. The method is computationally very demanding and does not readily provide uncertainty estimates. Here, we present a new and computationally very efficient technique to obtain ocean state estimates. We applied a state reduction approach in conjunction with a finite difference sensitivity-iterative Kalman smoother (FDS-IKS) to estimate spatially varying atmospheric forcing fields and to obtain an equilibrium model simulation in consistency with proxy data. We tested the method in synthetic pseudo-proxy data experiments. The method is capable of very efficiently estimating 16 control variables and reconstructing a target ocean circulation from sea surface temperature (SST) and oxygen isotopic composition of seawater data at LGM coverage. The method is advantageous over the adjoint method regarding that it is very easy to implement, it requires substantially less computing time and provides an uncertainty estimate of the estimated control variables. The computing time, however, depends linearly on the size of the control space limiting the number of control variables that can be estimated. We used the method to investigate the constraint of data outside of the Atlantic Ocean on the Atlantic overturning circulation. Our results indicate that while data from the Pacific or Indian Ocean aid in correctly estimating the Atlantic overturning circulation, they are not as crucial as the Atlantic data. We additionally applied the method to estimate the LGM ocean state constrained by a global SST reconstruction and data on the oxygen isotopic composition of calcite from fossil benthic and planktic foraminifera. The LGM estimate shows a large improvement compared to our first guess, but model-data misfits remain after the optimization due to model errors that cannot be corrected by the control variables. The estimate shows a shallower North Atlantic Deep Water and a weaker Atlantic overturning circulation compared to today in consistency with previous studies. The combination of the FDS-IKS and the state reduction approach is a step forward in making ocean state estimation and data assimilation applicable for complex and computationally expensive models and to models where the adjoint is not available.

Charlotte Breitkreuz et al.
Interactive discussion
Status: open (until 08 May 2019)
Status: open (until 08 May 2019)
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Charlotte Breitkreuz et al.
Charlotte Breitkreuz et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
We present a technique for ocean state estimation based on the combination of a simple data assimilation method with a state reduction approach. The technique proves to be very efficient and successful in reducing the model-data misfit and reconstructing a target ocean circulation from synthetic observations. In an application to Last Glacial Maximum proxy data the model-data misfit is greatly reduced but some misfit remains. Two different ocean states are found with similar model-data misfit.
We present a technique for ocean state estimation based on the combination of a simple data...