Estimating Tropical Cyclone Intensity by Satellite Imagery Utilizing Convolutional Neural Networks
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Accurately estimating tropical cyclone (TC) intensity is one of the most critical steps in TC forecasting and disaster warning/management. For over 40 years, the Dvorak technique (and several improved versions) has been applied for estimating TC intensity by forecasters worldwide. However, the operational Dvorak tech- niques primarily used in various agencies have several deficiencies, such as inherent subjectivity leading to inconsistent intensity estimates within various basins. This collaborative study between meteorologists and data scientists has developed a deep-learning model using satellite imagery to estimate TC intensity. The conventional convolutional neural network (CNN), which is a mature technology for object classification, requires several modifications when being used for directly estimating TC intensity (a regression task). Compared to the Dvorak technique, the CNN model proposed here is objective and consistent among various basins; it has been trained with satellite infrared brightness temperature and microwave rain-rate data from 1097 global TCs during 2003–14 and optimized with data from 188 TCs during 2015–16. This paper also introduces an upgraded version that further improves the accuracy by using additional TC information (i.e., basin, day of year, local time, longitude, and latitude) and applying a postsmoothing procedure. An independent testing dataset of 94 global TCs during 2017 has been used to evaluate the model performance. A root-mean-square intensity difference of 8.39 kt (1 kt ’ 0.51 m s21) is achieved relative to the best track intensities. For a subset of 482 samples analyzed with reconnaissance observations, a root-mean-square in- tensity difference of 8.79 kt is achieved.
The article of record as published may be found at https://doi.org/10.1175/WAF-D-18-0136.1
RightsThis publication is a work of the U.S. Government as defined in Title 17, United States Code, Section 101. Copyright protection is not available for this work in the United States.
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