MSDM v1.0: A machine learning model for precipitation nowcasting over eastern China using multisource data

Li, Dawei; Liu, Yudi; Chen, Chaohui

Eastern China is one of the most economically developed and densely populated areas in the world. Due to its special geographical location and climate, eastern China is affected by different weather systems, such as monsoons, shear lines, typhoons, and extratropical cyclones. In the near future, the rainfall rate becomes difficult to predict precisely due to these systems. Traditional physics-based methods such as numerical weather prediction (NWP) tend to perform poorly on nowcasting problems due to the spin-up issue. Moreover, various meteorological stations are distributed in this region, generating a large amount of observation data every day, which have great potential for application to data-driven methods. Thus, it is important to train a data-driven model from scratch that is suitable for the specific weather situation of eastern China. However, due to the high degrees of freedom and nonlinearity of machine learning algorithms, it is difficult to add physical constraints. Therefore, with the intention of using various kinds of data as a proxy for physical constraints, we collected three kinds of data (radar, satellite, and precipitation data) in the flood season from 2017 to 2018 in this area and preprocessed them into tensors (inline-formula256×256) that cover eastern China with a domain of inline-formula M2inlinescrollmathml normal 12.8 × normal 12.8 60pt11ptsvg-formulamathimgc3998ea99aa59a8a455d3cc389a141ee gmd-14-4019-2021-ie00001.svg60pt11ptgmd-14-4019-2021-ie00001.png . The developed multisource data model (MSDM) combines the optical flow, random forest, and convolutional neural network (CNN) algorithms. It treats the precipitation nowcasting task as an image-to-image problem, which takes radar and satellite data with an interval of 30 min as inputs and predicts radar echo intensity with a lead time of 30 min. To reduce the smoothing caused by convolutions, we use the optical flow algorithm to predict satellite data in the following 120 min. The predicted radar echoes from the MSDM together with satellite data from the optical flow algorithm are recursively implemented in the MSDM to achieve a 120 min lead time. The MSDM predictions are comparable to those of other baseline models with a high temporal resolution of 6 min. To solve blurry image problems, we applied a modified structural similarity (SSIM) index as a loss function. Furthermore, we use the random forest algorithm with predicted radar and satellite data to estimate the rainfall rate, and the results outperform those of the traditional, nonlinear radar reflectivity factor and rainfall rate (inline-formulaZinline-formulaR) relationships that use logarithmic functions. The experiments confirm that machine learning with multisource data provides more reasonable predictions and reveals a better nonlinear relationship between radar echo and precipitation rate. Apart from developing complicated machine learning algorithms, exploiting the potential of multisource data will yield more improvements.

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Li, Dawei / Liu, Yudi / Chen, Chaohui: MSDM v1.0: A machine learning model for precipitation nowcasting over eastern China using multisource data. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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