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What is the difference between a free forecast and a cycled model run? This GFS wiki mentions both, but does not define them.

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Cool, didn't realize that the GFS was on Github.

Looking on down the wiki, it seems like the "free-forecast" is associated with the deterministic model, while the "cycled" is associated with the Ensemble Kalman Filter. That is, the free-forecast is not constrained by data assimilation algorithms- it can just start from a restart file and go. A cycled run, however, needs multiple runs, as well as data.

This is all speculation based on naming conventions. If you really want an answer, perhaps asking the code developer?

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