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  • The 1st NOAA Workshop on Leveraging AI in the Exploitation of Satellite Earth Observations & Numerical Weather Prediction x
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Sid-Ahmed Boukabara, Vladimir Krasnopolsky, Stephen G. Penny, Jebb Q. Stewart, Amy McGovern, David Hall, John E. Ten Hoeve, Jason Hickey, Hung-Lung Allen Huang, John K. Williams, Kayo Ide, Philippe Tissot, Sue Ellen Haupt, Kenneth S. Casey, Nikunj Oza, Alan J. Geer, Eric S. Maddy, and Ross N. Hoffman

Abstract

Promising new opportunities to apply artificial intelligence (AI) to the Earth and environmental sciences are identified, informed by an overview of current efforts in the community. Community input was collected at the first National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) workshop on “Leveraging AI in the Exploitation of Satellite Earth Observations and Numerical Weather Prediction” held in April 2019. This workshop brought together over 400 scientists, program managers, and leaders from the public, academic, and private sectors in order to enable experts involved in the development and adaptation of AI tools and applications to meet and exchange experiences with NOAA experts. Paths are described to actualize the potential of AI to better exploit the massive volumes of environmental data from satellite and in situ sources that are critical for numerical weather prediction (NWP) and other Earth and environmental science applications. The main lessons communicated from community input via active workshop discussions and polling are reported. Finally, recommendations are presented for both scientists and decision-makers to address some of the challenges facing the adoption of AI across all Earth science.

Open access
Imme Ebert-Uphoff and Kyle Hilburn

Abstract

The method of neural networks (aka deep learning) has opened up many new opportunities to utilize remotely sensed images in meteorology. Common applications include image classification, e.g., to determine whether an image contains a tropical cyclone, and image-to-image translation, e.g., to emulate radar imagery for satellites that only have passive channels. However, there are yet many open questions regarding the use of neural networks for working with meteorological images, such as best practices for evaluation, tuning, and interpretation. This article highlights several strategies and practical considerations for neural network development that have not yet received much attention in the meteorological community, such as the concept of receptive fields, underutilized meteorological performance measures, and methods for neural network interpretation, such as synthetic experiments and layer-wise relevance propagation. We also consider the process of neural network interpretation as a whole, recognizing it as an iterative meteorologist-driven discovery process that builds on experimental design and hypothesis generation and testing. Finally, while most work on neural network interpretation in meteorology has so far focused on networks for image classification tasks, we expand the focus to also include networks for image-to-image translation.

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Kyle A. Hilburn, Imme Ebert-Uphoff, and Steven D. Miller

Abstract

The objective of this research is to develop techniques for assimilating GOES-R series observations in precipitating scenes for the purpose of improving short-term convective-scale forecasts of high-impact weather hazards. Whereas one approach is radiance assimilation, the information content of GOES-R radiances from its Advanced Baseline Imager saturates in precipitating scenes, and radiance assimilation does not make use of lightning observations from the GOES Lightning Mapper. Here, a convolutional neural network (CNN) is developed to transform GOES-R radiances and lightning into synthetic radar reflectivity fields to make use of existing radar assimilation techniques. We find that the ability of CNNs to utilize spatial context is essential for this application and offers breakthrough improvement in skill compared to traditional pixel-by-pixel based approaches. To understand the improved performance, we use a novel analysis method that combines several techniques, each providing different insights into the network’s reasoning. Channel-withholding experiments and spatial information–withholding experiments are used to show that the CNN achieves skill at high reflectivity values from the information content in radiance gradients and the presence of lightning. The attribution method, layerwise relevance propagation, demonstrates that the CNN uses radiance and lightning information synergistically, where lightning helps the CNN focus on which neighboring locations are most important. Synthetic inputs are used to quantify the sensitivity to radiance gradients, showing that sharper gradients produce a stronger response in predicted reflectivity. Lightning observations are found to be uniquely valuable for their ability to pinpoint locations of strong radar echoes.

Open access
Ryan Lagerquist, Amy McGovern, Cameron R. Homeyer, David John Gagne II, and Travis Smith

Abstract

This paper describes the development of convolutional neural networks (CNN), a type of deep-learning method, to predict next-hour tornado occurrence. Predictors are a storm-centered radar image and a proximity sounding from the Rapid Refresh model. Radar images come from the Multiyear Reanalysis of Remotely Sensed Storms (MYRORSS) and Gridded NEXRAD WSR-88D Radar dataset (GridRad), both of which are multiradar composites. We train separate CNNs on MYRORSS and GridRad data, present an experiment to optimize the CNN settings, and evaluate the chosen CNNs on independent testing data. Both models achieve an area under the receiver-operating-characteristic curve (AUC) well above 0.9, which is considered to be excellent performance. The GridRad model achieves a critical success index (CSI) of 0.31, and the MYRORSS model achieves a CSI of 0.17. The difference is due primarily to event frequency (percentage of storms that are tornadic in the next hour), which is 3.52% for GridRad but only 0.24% for MYRORSS. The best CNN predictions (true positives and negatives) occur for strongly rotating tornadic supercells and weak nontornadic cells in mesoscale convective systems, respectively. The worst predictions (false positives and negatives) occur for strongly rotating nontornadic supercells and tornadic cells in quasi-linear convective systems, respectively. The performance of our CNNs is comparable to an operational machine-learning system for severe weather prediction, which suggests that they would be useful for real-time forecasting.

Free access
Sid-Ahmed Boukabara, Vladimir Krasnopolsky, Jebb Q. Stewart, Eric S. Maddy, Narges Shahroudi, and Ross N. Hoffman

Abstract

Artificial intelligence (AI) techniques have had significant recent successes in multiple fields. These fields and the fields of satellite remote sensing and NWP share the same fundamental underlying needs, including signal and image processing, quality control mechanisms, pattern recognition, data fusion, forward and inverse problems, and prediction. Thus, modern AI in general and machine learning (ML) in particular can be positively disruptive and transformational change agents in the fields of satellite remote sensing and NWP by augmenting, and in some cases replacing, elements of the traditional remote sensing, assimilation, and modeling tools. And change is needed to meet the increasing challenges of Big Data, advanced models and applications, and user demands. Future developments, for example, SmallSats and the Internet of Things, will continue the explosion of new environmental data. ML models are highly efficient and in some cases more accurate because of their flexibility to accommodate nonlinearity and/or non-Gaussianity. With that efficiency, ML can help to address the demands put on environmental products for higher accuracy, for higher resolution—spatial, temporal, and vertical, for enhanced conventional medium-range forecasts, for outlooks and predictions on subseasonal to seasonal time scales, and for improvements in the process of issuing advisories and warnings. Using examples from satellite remote sensing and NWP, it is illustrated how ML can accelerate the pace of improvement in environmental data exploitation and weather prediction—first, by complementing existing systems, and second, where appropriate, as an alternative to some components of the NWP processing chain from observations to forecasts.

Free access
Eric D. Loken, Adam J. Clark, Amy McGovern, Montgomery Flora, and Kent Knopfmeier

Abstract

Most ensembles suffer from underdispersion and systematic biases. One way to correct for these shortcomings is via machine learning (ML), which is advantageous due to its ability to identify and correct nonlinear biases. This study uses a single random forest (RF) to calibrate next-day (i.e., 12–36-h lead time) probabilistic precipitation forecasts over the contiguous United States (CONUS) from the Short-Range Ensemble Forecast System (SREF) with 16-km grid spacing and the High-Resolution Ensemble Forecast version 2 (HREFv2) with 3-km grid spacing. Random forest forecast probabilities (RFFPs) from each ensemble are compared against raw ensemble probabilities over 496 days from April 2017 to November 2018 using 16-fold cross validation. RFFPs are also compared against spatially smoothed ensemble probabilities since the raw SREF and HREFv2 probabilities are overconfident and undersample the true forecast probability density function. Probabilistic precipitation forecasts are evaluated at four precipitation thresholds ranging from 0.1 to 3 in. In general, RFFPs are found to have better forecast reliability and resolution, fewer spatial biases, and significantly greater Brier skill scores and areas under the relative operating characteristic curve compared to corresponding raw and spatially smoothed ensemble probabilities. The RFFPs perform best at the lower thresholds, which have a greater observed climatological frequency. Additionally, the RF-based postprocessing technique benefits the SREF more than the HREFv2, likely because the raw SREF forecasts contain more systematic biases than those from the raw HREFv2. It is concluded that the RFFPs provide a convenient, skillful summary of calibrated ensemble output and are computationally feasible to implement in real time. Advantages and disadvantages of ML-based postprocessing techniques are discussed.

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Amy McGovern, Ryan Lagerquist, David John Gagne II, G. Eli Jergensen, Kimberly L. Elmore, Cameron R. Homeyer, and Travis Smith

Abstract

This paper synthesizes multiple methods for machine learning (ML) model interpretation and visualization (MIV) focusing on meteorological applications. ML has recently exploded in popularity in many fields, including meteorology. Although ML has been successful in meteorology, it has not been as widely accepted, primarily due to the perception that ML models are “black boxes,” meaning the ML methods are thought to take inputs and provide outputs but not to yield physically interpretable information to the user. This paper introduces and demonstrates multiple MIV techniques for both traditional ML and deep learning, to enable meteorologists to understand what ML models have learned. We discuss permutation-based predictor importance, forward and backward selection, saliency maps, class-activation maps, backward optimization, and novelty detection. We apply these methods at multiple spatiotemporal scales to tornado, hail, winter precipitation type, and convective-storm mode. By analyzing such a wide variety of applications, we intend for this work to demystify the black box of ML, offer insight in applying MIV techniques, and serve as a MIV toolbox for meteorologists and other physical scientists.

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Anthony Wimmers, Christopher Velden, and Joshua H. Cossuth

Abstract

A deep learning convolutional neural network model is used to explore the possibilities of estimating tropical cyclone (TC) intensity from satellite images in the 37- and 85–92-GHz bands. The model, called “DeepMicroNet,” has unique properties such as a probabilistic output, the ability to operate from partial scans, and resiliency to imprecise TC center fixes. The 85–92-GHz band is the more influential data source in the model, with 37 GHz adding a marginal benefit. Training the model on global best track intensities produces model estimates precise enough to replicate known best track intensity biases when compared to aircraft reconnaissance observations. Model root-mean-square error (RMSE) is 14.3 kt (1 kt ≈ 0.5144 m s−1) compared to two years of independent best track records, but this improves to an RMSE of 10.6 kt when compared to the higher-standard aircraft reconnaissance-aided best track dataset, and to 9.6 kt compared to the reconnaissance-aided best track when using the higher-resolution TRMM TMI and Aqua AMSR-E microwave observations only. A shortage of training and independent testing data for category 5 TCs leaves the results at this intensity range inconclusive. Based on this initial study, the application of deep learning to TC intensity analysis holds tremendous promise for further development with more advanced methodologies and expanded training datasets.

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Hanoi Medina, Di Tian, Fabio R. Marin, and Giovanni B. Chirico

Abstract

This study compares the performance of Global Ensemble Forecast System (GEFS) and European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) precipitation ensemble forecasts in Brazil and evaluates different analog-based methods and a logistic regression method for postprocessing the GEFS forecasts. The numerical weather prediction (NWP) forecasts were evaluated against the Physical Science Division South America Daily Gridded Precipitation dataset using both deterministic and probabilistic forecasting evaluation metrics. The results show that the ensemble precipitation forecasts performed commonly well in the east and poorly in the northwest of Brazil, independent of the models and the postprocessing methods. While the raw ECMWF forecasts performed better than the raw GEFS forecasts, analog-based GEFS forecasts were more skillful and reliable than both raw ECMWF and GEFS forecasts. The choice of a specific postprocessing strategy had less impact on the performance than the postprocessing itself. Nonetheless, forecasts produced with different analog-based postprocessing strategies were significantly different and were more skillful and as reliable and sharp as forecasts produced with the logistic regression method. The approach considering the logarithm of current and past reforecasts as the measure of closeness between analogs was identified as the best strategy. The results also indicate that the postprocessing using analog methods with long-term reforecast archive improved raw GEFS precipitation forecasting skill more than using logistic regression with short-term reforecast archive. In particular, the postprocessing dramatically improves the GEFS precipitation forecasts when the forecasting skill is low or below zero.

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Ricardo Martins Campos, Vladimir Krasnopolsky, Jose-Henrique G. M. Alves, and Stephen G. Penny

Abstract

Artificial neural networks (ANNs) applied to nonlinear wave ensemble averaging are developed and studied for Gulf of Mexico simulations. It is an approach that expands the conservative arithmetic ensemble mean (EM) from the NCEP Global Wave Ensemble Forecast System (GWES) to a nonlinear mapping that better captures the differences among the ensemble members and reduces the systematic and scatter errors of the forecasts. The ANNs have the 20 members of the GWES as input, and outputs are trained using observations from six buoys. The variables selected for the study are the 10-m wind speed (U10), significant wave height (Hs), and peak period (Tp) for the year of 2016. ANNs were built with one hidden layer using a hyperbolic tangent basis function. Several architectures with 12 different combinations of neurons, eight different filtering windows (time domain), and 100 seeds for the random initialization were studied and constructed for specific forecast days from 0 to 10. The results show that a small number of neurons are sufficient to reduce the bias, while 35–50 neurons produce the greatest reduction in both the scatter and systematic errors. The main advantage of the methodology using ANNs is not on short-range forecasts but at longer forecast ranges beyond 4 days. The nonlinear ensemble averaging using ANNs was able to improve the correlation coefficient on forecast day 10 from 0.39 to 0.61 for U10, from 0.50 to 0.76 for Hs, and from 0.38 to 0.63 for Tp, representing a gain of five forecast days when compared to the EM currently implemented.

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