Efficient stochastic superparameterization for geophysical turbulence

Ian Grooms, Andrew J. Majda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Efficient computation of geophysical turbulence, such as occurs in the atmosphere and ocean, is a formidable challenge for the following reasons: the complex combination of waves, jets, and vortices; significant energetic backscatter from unresolved small scales to resolved large scales; a lack of dynamical scale separation between large and small scales; and small-scale instabilities, conditional on the large scales, which do not saturate. Nevertheless, efficient methods are needed to allow large ensemble simulations of sufficient size to provide meaningful quantifications of uncertainty in future predictions and past reanalyses through data assimilation and filtering. Here, a class of efficient stochastic superparameterization algorithms is introduced. In contrast to conventional superparameterization, the method here (i) does not require the simulation of nonlinear eddy dynamics on periodic embedded domains, (ii) includes a better representation of unresolved smallscale instabilities, and (iii) allows efficient representation of a much wider range of unresolved scales. The simplest algorithm implemented here radically improves efficiency by representing smallscale eddies at and below the limit of computational resolution by a suitable one-dimensional stochastic model of random-direction plane waves. In contrast to heterogeneous multiscale methods, the methods developed here do not require strong scale separation or conditional equilibration of local statistics. The simplest algorithm introduced here shows excellent performance on a difficult test suite of prototype problems for geophysical turbulence with waves, jets, and vortices, with a speedup of several orders of magnitude compared with direct simulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4464-4469
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number12
StatePublished - Mar 19 2013


  • Random plane waves
  • Stochastic backscatter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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