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Nonlinear Processes in Geophysics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 15, issue 1
Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 15, 127-143, 2008
https://doi.org/10.5194/npg-15-127-2008
© Author(s) 2008. This work is licensed under
the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.

Special issue: Predictability in Earth Sciences

Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 15, 127-143, 2008
https://doi.org/10.5194/npg-15-127-2008
© Author(s) 2008. This work is licensed under
the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.

  18 Feb 2008

18 Feb 2008

Inverse modelling of atmospheric tracers: non-Gaussian methods and second-order sensitivity analysis

M. Bocquet2,1 M. Bocquet
  • 1Université Paris-Est, CEREA, Research and Teaching Centre in Atmospheric Environment, Joint laboratory École Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées / EDF R&D, avenue Blaise Pascal, 77455 Champs sur Marne, France
  • 2INRIA, Paris-Rocquencourt research centre, France

Abstract. For a start, recent techniques devoted to the reconstruction of sources of an atmospheric tracer at continental scale are introduced. A first method is based on the principle of maximum entropy on the mean and is briefly reviewed here. A second approach, which has not been applied in this field yet, is based on an exact Bayesian approach, through a maximum a posteriori estimator. The methods share common grounds, and both perform equally well in practice. When specific prior hypotheses on the sources are taken into account such as positivity, or boundedness, both methods lead to purposefully devised cost-functions. These cost-functions are not necessarily quadratic because the underlying assumptions are not Gaussian. As a consequence, several mathematical tools developed in data assimilation on the basis of quadratic cost-functions in order to establish a posteriori analysis, need to be extended to this non-Gaussian framework. Concomitantly, the second-order sensitivity analysis needs to be adapted, as well as the computations of the averaging kernels of the source and the errors obtained in the reconstruction. All of these developments are applied to a real case of tracer dispersion: the European Tracer Experiment [ETEX]. Comparisons are made between a least squares cost function (similar to the so-called 4D-Var) approach and a cost-function which is not based on Gaussian hypotheses. Besides, the information content of the observations which is used in the reconstruction is computed and studied on the application case. A connection with the degrees of freedom for signal is also established. As a by-product of these methodological developments, conclusions are drawn on the information content of the ETEX dataset as seen from the inverse modelling point of view.

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