The Bluelink ReANalysis (BRAN) is a multi-year integration of OFAM that assimilates observations using an Ensemble Optimal Interpolation (EnOI) data assimilation system called BODAS (Bluelink Ocean Data Assimilation System). The goal of BRAN is to provide a realistic quantitative description of the three-dimensional time-varying ocean circulation of all physical variables (temperature, salinity, sea-level and three components of velocity) for the last few decades.
BRAN is always a work in progress. Many runs of BRAN have been completed, each incorporating improvements to the model, data assimilation schemes and observational data sets.
This video of BRAN2.1 was made around 2008, at the completion of the first phase of Bluelink. By hindcasting the prior decade, it showed how true to the observations the modelling system was. This enabled users of the forecast system (recently launched by our partners at the Bureau of Meteorology) to see its strengths as well as its weaknesses. For example, when you watch the video, you will often see quite a strong correspondence between the motion of the surface drifters (the magenta arrows heads looping around) and the modelled movement of the water (as revealed by advection of warm and cold waters). We also do this quantitatively, of course, but tables of statistics do a poor job of portraying the richness and complexity of the circulation of the ocean. A critical eye will notice that the flows and temperatures in the model do not evolve continuously, but change suddenly every few days. This is the assimilation cycle at work. In recent years, we have been working to reduce these shocks, as have all our peers around the world. When the model is able to remain perfectly true to the real world and anticipate perfectly, several days in advance, what the satellites and other systems eventually observe, our job will be done.
Why do a reanalysis?
For the near-real-time model runs that are used to produce forecasting, much observational data may not be readily available due to transmission delay or lack of thorough quality control.
In addition to providing a high fidelity 3D record of the global seas, the BRAN model outputs support the creation of climatologies of mean ocean conditions, across all variables and locations. These provide an atlas of phenomena, together with indications of variability and uncertainty that can be used for planning operational activity and understanding the impact of long term change.
Each iteration of BRAN has been subject to peer-review, ensuring that methods and techniques used under Bluelink remain at the cutting-edge of the world’s best practice. Bluelink is also a founding partner of the Global Ocean Data Assimilation Experiment (GODAE), which now falls under GODAE OceanView (https://www.godae-oceanview.org); meaning that Bluelink also benefits from a close network of international collaborators, and a healthy competition between our ocean forecasting peers around the world.
Results from the latest Bluelink reanalysis – BRAN3 – are described in Oke et al. 2012.
BRAN data is publicly available. Details can be found on our Data Access page.
BRAN Version history
Bluelink partners have performed a series of Bluelink ReANalyses (BRAN) experiments over many years. Each BRAN experiment has involved incremental improvements, and many have included step-change improvements. A summary of the development of BRAN follows:
- BRAN1: the first Australian ocean reanalysis involved the development of a new model configuration and a new capability in ocean data assimilation. BRAN1, described by Oke et al. (2005), was far from perfect – but it opened a new chapter in Australian oceanography.
- BRAN1p5: the most obvious problem with BRAN1 was the ocean initialisation. The BRAN1 fields were too noisy, and the experiment didn’t assimilate satellite SST observations. BRAN1p5, documented by Oke et al. (2008), was a shorter reanalysis, that assimilated SST and largely eliminated the very noisy fields evident in BRAN1.
- BRAN2p1: using a setup that was very close to BRAN1p5, BRAN2p1 addressed a few small errors (in topography and forcing fields) and was longer than BRAN1p5, spanning over 14 years. Schiller et al. (2008) used BRAN2p1 to quantify the ocean variability around Australia.
- BRAN3p0: still based on BRAN1p5 (and 2p1), BRAN3p0, described by Oke et al. (2013), further improved the ocean initialisation and included many incremental improvements to the data assimilation system.
- BRAN2015: the first Australian, near-global ocean reanalysis, adopted a new model configuration (with high-resolution across all longitudes) and a new data assimilation code (https://github.com/sakov/enkf-c) replaced the system described by Oke et al. (2008). BRAN2015 was only a short experiment (about 3 years initially), but it was kept up to a few months behind real-time until about 2018. BRAN2015 wasn’t documented well, but was used for several applications (e.g., Oke et al. 2018; Griffin et al. 2017; Branson & Sun 2017)
- BRAN2016: using the same configuration as BRAN2016, BRAN2016 was a long reanalysis that was again not well documented, but used for several applications (e.g., Oke et al. 2019; Benthuysen et al. 2018; Huang et al. 2019). BRAN2016 developed a deep bias in temperature and salinity that hadn’t been detected before.
- BRAN2020: employed a multi-scale data assimilation step to eliminate the deep ocean biases. The misfit to observations in BRAN2020 are about 30% smaller that for BRAN2015 and BRAN2016. The data assimilation approach for BRAN2020 is documented by Chamberlain et al. (2021, soon to be published), and a description of the BRAN2020 experiment is presented in a data paper, by Chamberlain et al. (2021, soon to be published). BRAN2020 will be updated regularly.