Bayesian data assimilation

  • Remi L. Barillec

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis addresses data assimilation, which typically refers to the estimation of the state of a physical system given a model and observations, and its application to short-term precipitation forecasting. A general introduction to data assimilation is given, both from a deterministic and' stochastic point of view. Data assimilation algorithms are reviewed, in the static case (when no dynamics are involved), then in the dynamic case. A double experiment on two non-linear models, the Lorenz 63 and the Lorenz 96 models, is run and the comparative performance of the methods is discussed in terms of quality of the assimilation, robustness "in the non-linear regime and computational time. Following the general review and analysis, data assimilation is discussed in the particular
context of very short-term rainfall forecasting (nowcasting) using radar images. An extended Bayesian precipitation nowcasting model is introduced. The model is stochastic in nature and relies on the spatial decomposition of the rainfall field into rain "cells". Radar observations are assimilated using a Variational Bayesian method in which the true posterior distribution of the parameters is approximated by a more tractable distribution. The motion of the cells is captured by a 20 Gaussian process. The model is tested on two precipitation events, the first dominated by convective showers, the second by precipitation fronts. Several deterministic and probabilistic validation methods are applied and the model is shown to retain reasonable prediction skill at up to 3 hours lead time. Extensions to the model are discussed.
Date of AwardDec 2008
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorDan Cornford (Supervisor)


  • data assimilation
  • Bayesian data assimilation
  • precipitation
  • nowcasting
  • validaton

Cite this

Bayesian data assimilation
Barillec, R. L. (Author). Dec 2008

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy