Parameter estimation in ensemble based snow data assimilation: A synthetic study

Hua Su, Zong Liang Yang, Guo Yue Niu, Clark R. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Estimating erroneous parameters in ensemble based snow data assimilation system has been given little attention in the literature. Little is known about the related methods' effectiveness, performance, and sensitivity to other error sources such as model structural error. This research tackles these questions by running synthetic one-dimensional snow data assimilation with the ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF), in which both state and parameter are simultaneously updated. The first part of the paper investigates the effectiveness of this parameter estimation approach in a perfect-model-structure scenario, and the second part focuses on its dependence on model structure error. The results from first part research demonstrate the advantages of this parameter estimation approach in reducing the systematic error of snow water equivalent (SWE) estimates, and retrieving the correct parameter value. The second part results indicate that, at least in our experiment, there is an evident dependence of parameter search convergence on model structural error. In the imperfect-model-structure run, the parameter search diverges, although it can simulate the state variable well. This result suggest that, good data assimilation performance in estimating state variables is not a sufficient indicator of reliable parameter retrieval in the presence of model structural error. The generality of this conclusion needs to be tested by data assimilation experiments with more complex structural error configurations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)407-416
Number of pages10
JournalAdvances in Water Resources
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • Data assimilation
  • Parameter estimation
  • Snow hydrology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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