A model-independent data assimilation (MIDA) module and its applications in ecology

Xin Huang, Dan Lu, Daniel M. Ricciuto, Paul J. Hanson, Andrew D. Richardson, Xuehe Lu, Ensheng Weng, Sheng Nie, Lifen Jiang, Enqing Hou, Igor F. Steinmacher, Yiqi Luo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Models are an important tool to predict Earth system dynamics. An accurate prediction of future states of ecosystems depends on not only model structures but also parameterizations. Model parameters can be constrained by data assimilation. However, applications of data assimilation to ecology are restricted by highly technical requirements such as model-dependent coding. To alleviate this technical burden, we developed a model-independent data assimilation (MIDA) module. MIDA works in three steps including data preparation, execution of data assimilation, and visualization. The first step prepares prior ranges of parameter values, a defined number of iterations, and directory paths to access files of observations and models. The execution step calibrates parameter values to best fit the observations and estimates the parameter posterior distributions. The final step automatically visualizes the calibration performance and posterior distributions. MIDA is model independent, and modelers can use MIDA for an accurate and efficient data assimilation in a simple and interactive way without modification of their original models. We applied MIDA to four types of ecological models: the data assimilation linked ecosystem carbon (DALEC) model, a surrogate-based energy exascale earth system model: the land component (ELM), nine phenological models and a stand-alone biome ecological strategy simulator (BiomeE). The applications indicate that MIDA can effectively solve data assimilation problems for different ecological models. Additionally, the easy implementation and model-independent feature of MIDA breaks the technical barrier of applications of data-model fusion in ecology. MIDA facilitates the assimilation of various observations into models for uncertainty reduction in ecological modeling and forecasting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5217-5238
Number of pages22
JournalGeoscientific Model Development
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 20 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Modeling and Simulation
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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