Flexible iterative ensemble smoother for calibration of perfect and imperfect models

Muzammil Hussain Rammay*, Ahmed H. Elsheikh, Yan Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
22 Downloads (Pure)


Iterative ensemble smoothers have been widely used for calibrating simulators of various physical systems due to the relatively low computational cost and the parallel nature of the algorithm. However, iterative ensemble smoothers have been designed for perfect models under the main assumption that the specified physical models and subsequent discretized mathematical models have the capability to model the reality accurately. While significant efforts are usually made to ensure the accuracy of the mathematical model, it is widely known that the physical models are only an approximation of reality. These approximations commonly introduce some type of model error which is generally unknown and when the models are calibrated, the effects of the model errors could be smeared by adjusting the model parameters to match historical observations. This results in a bias estimated parameters and as a consequence might result in predictions with questionable quality. In this paper, we formulate a flexible iterative ensemble smoother, which can be used to calibrate imperfect models where model errors cannot be neglected. We base our method on the ensemble smoother with multiple data assimilation (ES-MDA) as it is one of the most widely used iterative ensemble smoothing techniques. In the proposed algorithm, the residual (data mismatch) is split into two parts. One part is used to derive the parameter update and the second part is used to represent the model error. The proposed method is quite general and relaxes many of the assumptions commonly introduced in the literature. We observe that the proposed algorithm has the capability to reduce the effect of model bias by capturing the unknown model errors, thus improving the quality of the estimated parameters and prediction capacity of imperfect physical models.

Original languageEnglish
JournalComputational Geosciences
Early online date10 Dec 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Dec 2020


  • Calibration of imperfect model
  • Ensemble smoother
  • Model error

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computers in Earth Sciences
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Computational Mathematics


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