A random forest algorithm for nowcasting of intense precipitation events

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Research Article

Publication Title

Advances in Space Research


Automatic nowcasting of convective initiation and thunderstorms has potential applications in several sectors including aviation planning and disaster management. In this paper, random forest based machine learning algorithm is tested for nowcasting of convective rain with a ground based radiometer. Brightness temperatures measured at 14 frequencies (7 frequencies in 22–31 GHz band and 7 frequencies in 51–58 GHz bands) are utilized as the inputs of the model. The lower frequency band is associated to the water vapor absorption whereas the upper frequency band relates to the oxygen absorption and hence, provide information on the temperature and humidity of the atmosphere. Synthetic minority over-sampling technique is used to balance the data set and 10-fold cross validation is used to assess the performance of the model. Results indicate that random forest algorithm with fixed alarm generation time of 30 min and 60 min performs quite well (probability of detection of all types of weather condition ∼90%) with low false alarms. It is, however, also observed that reducing the alarm generation time improves the threat score significantly and also decreases false alarms. The proposed model is found to be very sensitive to the boundary layer instability as indicated by the variable importance measure. The study shows the suitability of a random forest algorithm for nowcasting application utilizing a large number of input parameters from diverse sources and can be utilized in other forecasting problems.

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