Precipitation Nowcasting using Deep Neural Networks
Sammanfattning: Deep neural networks (DNNs) based on satellite and radar data have shown promising results for precipitation nowcasting, beating physical models and optical flow for time horizons up to 8 hours. “MetNet”, developed by Google AI, is a 225 million parameter DNN combining three different types of architectures that was trained on satellite and radar data over the United States. They claim to be the first machine learning model to outperform physical models at such a scale. In this work, we implemented a similar but simplified model trained on radar-only Swedish data, with the aim to perform precipitation nowcasting for up to 2 hours into the future. Furthermore, we compare the model to another, simpler model that omits the spatial aggregator of the DNN architecture which is a state-of-the-art vision transformer. Our results show that, although the adopted training dataset was too small to prevent overfitting, the model is still able to outperform the persistence benchmark for lead times longer than 30 minutes with a threshold of 0.2mm/h precipitation. Our simplified model, perhaps unsurprisingly, is outperformed by MetNet because of having too few training data samples or variances in the models’ implementation. We show, nonetheless, that the adopted spatial aggregator fulfills a vital role as expected, aggregating global information into spatial and temporal contexts. Due to the limitations imposed by the reduced size of the model, we cannot, unfortunately, draw definitive conclusions on whether a radar-only model could yield similar forecast skills as MetNet. To improve on these results, more training data is certainly needed. This would require that more robust computation resources are available, but pre-training the model on a larger dataset — or even implementing a model that takes in different geographical locations for training — can naturally lead to significant improvements in the predictions.
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