Predicting Short-Term Intensity Change in Tropical Cyclones Using a Convolutional Neural Network

Sarah M. Griffin aCooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, Wisconsin

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Anthony Wimmers aCooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, Wisconsin

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Christopher S. Velden aCooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, Wisconsin

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Abstract

This study details a two-method, machine learning approach to predict current and short-term intensity change in global tropical cyclones (TCs), “D-MINT” and “D-PRINT.” D-MINT and D-PRINT use infrared imagery and environmental scalar predictors, while D-MINT also employs microwave imagery. Results show that current TC intensity estimates from D-MINT and D-PRINT are more skillful than three established intensity estimation methods routinely used by operational forecasters for North Atlantic and eastern and western North Pacific TCs. Short-term intensity predictions are validated against five operational deterministic guidances at 6-, 12-, 18-, and 24-h lead times. D-MINT and D-PRINT are less skillful than NHC and consensus TC intensity predictions in North Atlantic and eastern North Pacific TCs, but are more skillful than the other guidances for at least half of the lead times. In western North Pacific, north Indian Ocean, and Southern Hemisphere TCs, D-MINT is more skillful than the JTWC and other individual TC intensity forecasts for over half of the lead times. When probabilistically predicting TC rapid intensification (RI), D-MINT is more skillful in North Atlantic and western North Pacific TCs than three operationally used RI guidances, but less skillful for yes–no RI forecasts. In addition, this work demonstrates the importance of microwave imagery, as D-MINT is more skillful than D-PRINT. Since D-MINT and D-PRINT are convolutional neural network models interrogating two-dimensional structures within TC satellite imagery, this study also demonstrates that those features can yield better short-term predictions than existing scalar statistics of satellite imagery in operational models. Finally, a diagnostics tool is revealed to aid the attribution of the D-MINT/D-PRINT intensity predictions.

Significance Statement

This study develops a method to predict current and short-term forecasts of tropical cyclone (TC) intensity using artificial intelligence. The resultant models use a convolutional neural network (CNN) that can identify two-dimensional features in satellite imagery that are indicative of TC intensity and future intensity change. The performance results indicate that in several TC basins, the CNN approach is generally more skillful than alternative satellite-based estimates of TC intensity as well as operational short-term forecasts of deterministic intensity change and of similar skill to probabilistic rapid intensification forecasts.

© 2024 American Meteorological Society. This published article is licensed under the terms of the default AMS reuse license. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Sarah M. Griffin, sarah.griffin@ssec.wisc.edu

Abstract

This study details a two-method, machine learning approach to predict current and short-term intensity change in global tropical cyclones (TCs), “D-MINT” and “D-PRINT.” D-MINT and D-PRINT use infrared imagery and environmental scalar predictors, while D-MINT also employs microwave imagery. Results show that current TC intensity estimates from D-MINT and D-PRINT are more skillful than three established intensity estimation methods routinely used by operational forecasters for North Atlantic and eastern and western North Pacific TCs. Short-term intensity predictions are validated against five operational deterministic guidances at 6-, 12-, 18-, and 24-h lead times. D-MINT and D-PRINT are less skillful than NHC and consensus TC intensity predictions in North Atlantic and eastern North Pacific TCs, but are more skillful than the other guidances for at least half of the lead times. In western North Pacific, north Indian Ocean, and Southern Hemisphere TCs, D-MINT is more skillful than the JTWC and other individual TC intensity forecasts for over half of the lead times. When probabilistically predicting TC rapid intensification (RI), D-MINT is more skillful in North Atlantic and western North Pacific TCs than three operationally used RI guidances, but less skillful for yes–no RI forecasts. In addition, this work demonstrates the importance of microwave imagery, as D-MINT is more skillful than D-PRINT. Since D-MINT and D-PRINT are convolutional neural network models interrogating two-dimensional structures within TC satellite imagery, this study also demonstrates that those features can yield better short-term predictions than existing scalar statistics of satellite imagery in operational models. Finally, a diagnostics tool is revealed to aid the attribution of the D-MINT/D-PRINT intensity predictions.

Significance Statement

This study develops a method to predict current and short-term forecasts of tropical cyclone (TC) intensity using artificial intelligence. The resultant models use a convolutional neural network (CNN) that can identify two-dimensional features in satellite imagery that are indicative of TC intensity and future intensity change. The performance results indicate that in several TC basins, the CNN approach is generally more skillful than alternative satellite-based estimates of TC intensity as well as operational short-term forecasts of deterministic intensity change and of similar skill to probabilistic rapid intensification forecasts.

© 2024 American Meteorological Society. This published article is licensed under the terms of the default AMS reuse license. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Sarah M. Griffin, sarah.griffin@ssec.wisc.edu

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