Using Tranformation Group Priors and Maximum Relative Entropy for Bayesian Glaciological Inversions

Friday, 19 December 2014
Robert J Arthern1, Richard C A Hindmarsh2 and C. Rosie Williams1, (1)NERC British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, United Kingdom, (2)NERC British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, CB3, United Kingdom
One of the key advances that has allowed better simulations of the large ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica has been the use of inverse methods. These have allowed poorly known parameters such as the basal drag coefficient and ice viscosity to be constrained using a wide variety of satellite observations. Inverse methods used by glaciologists have broadly followed one of two related approaches. The first is minimization of a cost function that describes the misfit to the observations, often accompanied by some kind of explicit or implicit regularization that promotes smallness or smoothness in the inverted parameters. The second approach is a probabilistic framework that makes use of Bayes' theorem to update prior assumptions about the probability of parameters, making use of data with known error estimates. Both approaches have much in common and questions of regularization often map onto implicit choices of prior probabilities that are made explicit in the Bayesian framework. In both approaches questions can arise that seem to demand subjective input. What should the functional form of the cost function be if there are alternatives? What kind of regularization should be applied, and how much? How should the prior probability distribution for a parameter such as basal slipperiness be specified when we know so little about the details of the subglacial environment? Here we consider some approaches that have been used to address these questions and discuss ways that probabilistic prior information used for regularizing glaciological inversions might be specified with greater objectivity.