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A Machine Learning Approach for Classifying Bird and Insect Radar Echoes with S-Band Polarimetric Weather Radar

Precious JatauaAdvanced Radar Research Center, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
bCooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
cSchool of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma

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Valery MelnikovbCooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
dNational Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma

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Tian-You YuaAdvanced Radar Research Center, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
cSchool of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
eSchool of Meteorology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma

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Abstract

The S-band WSR-88D is sensitive enough to observe biological scatterers like birds and insects. However, their nonspherical shapes and frequent collocation in the radar resolution volume create challenges in identifying their echoes. We propose a method of extracting bird (insect) features by coherently averaging dual-polarization measurements from multiple radar scans containing bird (insect) migration. Additional features are also computed to capture aspect and range dependence and the variation of these echoes over local regions. Next, ridge classifier and decision tree machine learning algorithms are trained, first only with the averaged dual-polarization inputs and then different combinations of the remaining features are added. The performance of all models for both methods are analyzed using metrics computed from the test data. Further studies on different patterns of birds/insects, including roosting birds, bird migration, and insect migration cases, are used to further investigate the generality of our models. Overall, the ridge classifier using only dual-polarization variables was found to perform consistently well across all these tests. Our recommendation is that this classifier can be used operationally on the U.S. Next Generation Weather Radars (NEXRAD), as a first step in classifying biological echoes. It would be used in conjunction with the existing hydrometeor classification algorithm (HCA), where the HCA would first separate biological from nonbiological echoes, then our algorithm would be applied to further separate biological echoes into birds and insects. To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first to train a machine learning classifier that is capable of detecting diverse patterns of bird and insect echoes, based on dual-polarization variables at each range gate.

© 2021 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Precious Jatau, preciousjatau@ou.edu

Abstract

The S-band WSR-88D is sensitive enough to observe biological scatterers like birds and insects. However, their nonspherical shapes and frequent collocation in the radar resolution volume create challenges in identifying their echoes. We propose a method of extracting bird (insect) features by coherently averaging dual-polarization measurements from multiple radar scans containing bird (insect) migration. Additional features are also computed to capture aspect and range dependence and the variation of these echoes over local regions. Next, ridge classifier and decision tree machine learning algorithms are trained, first only with the averaged dual-polarization inputs and then different combinations of the remaining features are added. The performance of all models for both methods are analyzed using metrics computed from the test data. Further studies on different patterns of birds/insects, including roosting birds, bird migration, and insect migration cases, are used to further investigate the generality of our models. Overall, the ridge classifier using only dual-polarization variables was found to perform consistently well across all these tests. Our recommendation is that this classifier can be used operationally on the U.S. Next Generation Weather Radars (NEXRAD), as a first step in classifying biological echoes. It would be used in conjunction with the existing hydrometeor classification algorithm (HCA), where the HCA would first separate biological from nonbiological echoes, then our algorithm would be applied to further separate biological echoes into birds and insects. To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first to train a machine learning classifier that is capable of detecting diverse patterns of bird and insect echoes, based on dual-polarization variables at each range gate.

© 2021 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Precious Jatau, preciousjatau@ou.edu

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