Observations of hurricane position, which in practice might be available from satellite or radar imagery, can be easily assimilated with an ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) given an operator that computes the position of the vortex in the background forecast. The simple linear updating scheme used in the EnKF is effective for small displacements of forecasted vortices from the true position; this situation is operationally relevant since hurricane position is often available frequently in time. When displacements of the forecasted vortices are comparable to the vortex size, non-Gaussian effects become significant and the EnKF’s linear update begins to degrade. Simulations using a simple two-dimensional barotropic model demonstrate the potential of the technique and show that the track forecast initialized with the EnKF analysis is improved. The assimilation of observations of the vortex shape and intensity, along with position, extends the technique’s effectiveness to larger displacements of the forecasted vortices than when assimilating position alone.
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