Using machine learning to model uncertainty for water vapor atmospheric motion vectors

Teixeira, Joaquim V.; Nguyen, Hai; Posselt, Derek J.; Su, Hui; Wu, Longtao

Wind-tracking algorithms produce atmospheric motion vectors (AMVs) by tracking clouds or water vapor across spatial–temporal fields. Thorough error characterization of wind-tracking algorithms is critical in properly assimilating AMVs into weather forecast models and climate reanalysis datasets. Uncertainty modeling should yield estimates of two key quantities of interest: bias, the systematic difference between a measurement and the true value, and standard error, a measure of variability of the measurement. The current process of specification of the errors in inverse modeling is often cursory and commonly consists of a mixture of model fidelity, expert knowledge, and need for expediency. The method presented in this paper supplements existing approaches to error specification by providing an error characterization module that is purely data-driven. Our proposed error characterization method combines the flexibility of machine learning (random forest) with the robust error estimates of unsupervised parametric clustering (using a Gaussian mixture model). Traditional techniques for uncertainty modeling through machine learning have focused on characterizing bias but often struggle when estimating standard error. In contrast, model-based approaches such as inline-formulak-means or Gaussian mixture modeling can provide reasonable estimates of both bias and standard error, but they are often limited in complexity due to reliance on linear or Gaussian assumptions. In this paper, a methodology is developed and applied to characterize error in tracked wind using a high-resolution global model simulation, and it is shown to provide accurate and useful error features of the tracked wind.



Teixeira, Joaquim V. / Nguyen, Hai / Posselt, Derek J. / et al: Using machine learning to model uncertainty for water vapor atmospheric motion vectors. 2021. Copernicus Publications.


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