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Timothy Olander, Anthony Wimmers, Christopher Velden, and James P. Kossin


Several simple and computationally inexpensive machine learning models are explored that can use advanced Dvorak technique (ADT)-retrieved features of tropical cyclones (TCs) from satellite imagery to provide improved maximum sustained surface wind speed (MSW) estimates. ADT (version 9.0) TC analysis parameters and operational TC forecast center best track datasets from 2005 to 2016 are used to train and validate the various models over all TC basins globally and select the best among them. Two independent test sets of TC cases from 2017 to 2018 are used to evaluate the intensity estimates produced by the final selected model called the “artificial intelligence (AI)” enhanced advanced Dvorak technique (AiDT). The 2017–18 MSW results demonstrate a global RMSE of 7.7 and 8.2 kt (1 kt ≈ 0.51 m s−1), respectively. Basin-specific MSW RMSEs of 8.4, 6.8, 7.3, 8.0, and 7.5 kt were obtained with the 2017 dataset in the North Atlantic, east/central Pacific, northwest Pacific, South Pacific/south Indian, and north Indian Ocean basins, respectively, with MSW RMSE values of 8.9, 6.7, 7.1, 10.4, and 7.7 obtained with the 2018 dataset. These represent a 30% and 23% improvement over the corresponding ADT RMSE for the 2017–18 datasets, respectively, with the AiDT error reduction significant to 99% in both sets. The AiDT model represents a notable improvement over the ADT performance and also compares favorably to more computationally expensive and complex machine learning models that interrogate satellite images directly while still preserving the operational familiarity of the ADT.

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Anthony Wimmers, Sarah Griffin, Jordan Gerth, Scott Bachmeier, and Scott Lindstrom


This paper introduces a method of image filtering for viewing gravity waves in satellite imagery, which is particularly timely to the advent of the next-generation Advanced Himawari Imager (AHI) and the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI). Applying a “high pass” filter to the upper-troposphere water vapor channel reveals sub-Kelvin-degree variations in brightness temperature that depict an abundance of gravity wave activity at the AHI/ABI sensitivity. Three examples demonstrate that this high-pass product can be exploited in a forecasting setting to identify possible varieties of turbulence-prone gravity waves that either 1) move roughly orthogonally to the apparent background flow or 2) produce interference as separate wave packets pass through the same location.

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Christopher M. Rozoff, Christopher S. Velden, John Kaplan, James P. Kossin, and Anthony J. Wimmers


The probabilistic prediction of tropical cyclone (TC) rapid intensification (RI) in the Atlantic and eastern Pacific Ocean basins is examined here using a series of logistic regression models trained on environmental and infrared satellite-derived features. The environmental predictors are based on averaged values over a 24-h period following the forecast time. These models are compared against equivalent models enhanced with additional TC predictors created from passive satellite microwave imagery (MI). Leave-one-year-out cross validation on the developmental dataset shows that the inclusion of MI-based predictors yields more skillful RI models for a variety of RI and intensity thresholds. Compared with the baseline forecast skill of the non-MI-based RI models, the relative skill improvements from including MI-based predictors range from 10.6% to 44.9%. Using archived real-time data during the period 2004–13, evaluation of simulated real-time models is also carried out. Unlike in the model development stage, the simulated real-time setting involves using Global Forecast System forecasts for the non-satellite-based predictors instead of “perfect” observational-based predictors in the developmental data. In this case, the MI-based RI models still generate superior skill to the baseline RI models lacking MI-based predictors. The relative improvements gained in adding MI-based predictors are most notable in the Atlantic, where the non-MI versions of the models suffer acutely from the use of imperfect real-time data. In the Atlantic, relative skill improvements provided from the inclusion of MI-based predictors range from 53.5% to 103.0%. The eastern Pacific relative improvements are less impressive but are still uniformly positive.

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John L. Cintineo, Michael J. Pavolonis, Justin M. Sieglaff, Anthony Wimmers, Jason Brunner, and Willard Bellon


Intense thunderstorms threaten life and property, impact aviation, and are a challenging forecast problem, particularly without precipitation-sensing radar data. Trained forecasters often look for features in geostationary satellite images such as rapid cloud growth, strong and persistent overshooting tops, U- or V-shaped patterns in storm-top temperature (and associated above-anvil cirrus plumes), thermal couplets, intricate texturing in cloud albedo (e.g., “bubbling” cloud tops), cloud-top divergence, spatial and temporal trends in lightning, and other nuances to identify intense thunderstorms. In this paper, a machine-learning algorithm was employed to automatically learn and extract salient features and patterns in geostationary satellite data for the prediction of intense convection. Namely, a convolutional neural network (CNN) was trained on 0.64-μm reflectance and 10.35-μm brightness temperature from the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) and flash-extent density (FED) from the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) on board GOES-16. Using a training dataset consisting of over 220 000 human-labeled satellite images, the CNN learned pertinent features that are known to be associated with intense convection and skillfully discriminated between intense and ordinary convection. The CNN also learned a more nuanced feature associated with intense convection—strong infrared brightness temperature gradients near cloud edges in the vicinity of the main updraft. A successive-permutation test ranked the most important predictors as follows: 1) ABI 10.35-μm brightness temperature, 2) ABI GLM flash-extent density, and 3) ABI 0.64-μm reflectance. The CNN model can provide forecasters with quantitative information that often foreshadows the occurrence of severe weather, day or night, over the full range of instrument-scan modes.

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