Campus Map

Caren Marzban

Principal Physicist

Lecturer, Statistics






B.S. Physics, Michigan State University, 1981

Ph.D. Theoretical Physics, University of North Carolina, 1988


2000-present and while at APL-UW

Sensitivity analysis of the spatial structure of forecasts in mesoscale models: Noncontinuous model parameters

Marzban, C., R. Tardif, and S. Sandgathe, "Sensitivity analysis of the spatial structure of forecasts in mesoscale models: Noncontinuous model parameters," Mon. Wea. Rev., 148, 1717-1735, doi:, 2020.

More Info

1 Apr 2020

In a recent work, a sensitivity analysis methodology was described that allows for a visual display of forecast sensitivity, with respect to model parameters, across a gridded forecast field. In that approach, sensitivity was assessed with respect to model parameters that are continuous in nature. Here, the analogous methodology is developed for situations involving noncontinuous (discrete or categorical) model parameters. The method is variance based, and the variances are estimated via a random-effects model based on 2k–p fractional factorial designs and Graeco-Latin square designs. The development is guided by its application to model parameters in the stochastic kinetic energy backscatter scheme (SKEBS), which control perturbations at unresolved, subgrid scales. In addition to the SKEBS parameters, the effect of daily variability and replication (both, discrete factors) are also examined. The forecasts examined are for precipitation, temperature, and wind speed. In this particular application, it is found that the model parameters have a much weaker effect on the forecasts as compared to the effect of daily variability and replication, and that sensitivities, weak or strong, often have a distinctive spatial structure that reflects underlying topography and/or weather patterns. These findings caution against fine-tuning methods that disregard 1) sources of variability other than those due to model parameters, and 2) spatial structure in the forecasts.

A methodology for sensitivity analysis of spatial features in forecasts: The stochastic kinetic energy backscatter scheme

Marzban, C., R. Tardif, S. Sandgathe, and N. Hryniw, "A methodology for sensitivity analysis of spatial features in forecasts: The stochastic kinetic energy backscatter scheme," Meteorol. Appl., 26, 545-467, doi:10.1002/met.1775, 2018.

More Info

1 Jul 2019

Stochastic kinetic energy backscatter schemes (SKEBSs) are introduced in numerical weather forecast models to represent uncertainties related to unresolved subgrid‐scale processes. These schemes are formulated using a set of parameters that must be determined using physical knowledge and/or to obtain a desired outcome. Here, a methodology is developed for assessing the effect of four factors on spatial features of forecasts simulated by the SKEBS‐enabled Weather Research and Forecasting model. The four factors include two physically motivated SKEBS parameters (the determining amplitude of perturbations applied to stream function and potential temperature tendencies), a purely stochastic element (a seed used in generating random perturbations) and a factor reflecting daily variability. A simple threshold‐based approach for identifying coherent objects within forecast fields is employed, and the effect of the four factors on object features (e.g. number, size and intensity) is assessed. Four object types are examined: upper‐air jet streaks, low‐level jets, precipitation areas and frontal boundaries. The proposed method consists of a set of standard techniques in experimental design, based on the analysis of variance, tailored to sensitivity analysis. More specifically, a Latin square design is employed to reduce the number of model simulations necessary for performing the sensitivity analysis. Fixed effects and random effects models are employed to assess the main effects and the percentage of the total variability explained by the four factors. It is found that the two SKEBS parameters do not have an appreciable and/or statistically significant effect on any of the examined object features.

On the effect of model parameters on forecast objects

Marzban, C., C. Jones, N. Li, and S. Sandgathe, "On the effect of model parameters on forecast objects," Geosci. Model Dev., 11, 1577-1590, doi:10.5194/gmd-11-1577-2018, 2018.

More Info

19 Apr 2018

Many physics-based numerical models produce a gridded, spatial field of forecasts, e.g., a temperature "map". The field for some quantities generally consists of spatially coherent and disconnected "objects". Such objects arise in many problems, including precipitation forecasts in atmospheric models, eddy currents in ocean models, and models of forest fires. Certain features of these objects (e.g., location, size, intensity, and shape) are generally of interest. Here, a methodology is developed for assessing the impact of model parameters on the features of forecast objects. The main ingredients of the methodology include the use of (1) Latin hypercube sampling for varying the values of the model parameters, (2) statistical clustering algorithms for identifying objects, (3) multivariate multiple regression for assessing the impact of multiple model parameters on the distribution (across the forecast domain) of object features, and (4) methods for reducing the number of hypothesis tests and controlling the resulting errors. The final "output" of the methodology is a series of box plots and confidence intervals that visually display the sensitivities. The methodology is demonstrated on precipitation forecasts from a mesoscale numerical weather prediction model.

More Publications


System and Methods for Tracking Finger and Hand Movement Using Ultrasound

Record of Invention Number: 47931

John Kucewicz, Brian MacConaghy, Caren Marzban


10 Jan 2017

Acoustics Air-Sea Interaction & Remote Sensing Center for Environmental & Information Systems Center for Industrial & Medical Ultrasound Electronic & Photonic Systems Ocean Engineering Ocean Physics Polar Science Center