PhD thesis: a PhD thesis.
Kernel-based Mapping of Meteorological Fields in Complex Orography
Université de Lausanne, Faculté des géosciences et de l'environnement
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Due to the advances in sensor networks and remote sensing technologies, the acquisition and storage rates of meteorological and climatological data increases every day and ask for novel and efficient processing algorithms. A fundamental problem of data analysis and modeling is the spatial prediction of meteorological variables in complex orography, which serves among others to extended climatological analyses, for the assimilation of data into numerical weather prediction models, for preparing inputs to hydrological models and for real time monitoring and short-term forecasting of weather.In this thesis, a new framework for spatial estimation is proposed by taking advantage of a class of algorithms emerging from the statistical learning theory. Nonparametric kernel-based methods for nonlinear data classification, regression and target detection, known as support vector machines (SVM), are adapted for mapping of meteorological variables in complex orography.With the advent of high resolution digital elevation models, the field of spatial prediction met new horizons. In fact, by exploiting image processing tools along with physical heuristics, an incredible number of terrain features which account for the topographic conditions at multiple spatial scales can be extracted. Such features are highly relevant for the mapping of meteorological variables because they control a considerable part of the spatial variability of meteorological fields in the complex Alpine orography. For instance, patterns of orographic rainfall, wind speed and cold air pools are known to be correlated with particular terrain forms, e.g. convex/concave surfaces and upwind sides of mountain slopes.Kernel-based methods are employed to learn the nonlinear statistical dependence which links the multidimensional space of geographical and topographic explanatory variables to the variable of interest, that is the wind speed as measured at the weather stations or the occurrence of orographic rainfall patterns as extracted from sequences of radar images. Compared to low dimensional models integrating only the geographical coordinates, the proposed framework opens a way to regionalize meteorological variables which are multidimensional in nature and rarely show spatial auto-correlation in the original space making the use of classical geostatistics tangled.The challenges which are explored during the thesis are manifolds. First, the complexity of models is optimized to impose appropriate smoothness properties and reduce the impact of noisy measurements. Secondly, a multiple kernel extension of SVM is considered to select the multiscale features which explain most of the spatial variability of wind speed. Then, SVM target detection methods are implemented to describe the orographic conditions which cause persistent and stationary rainfall patterns. Finally, the optimal splitting of the data is studied to estimate realistic performances and confidence intervals characterizing the uncertainty of predictions.The resulting maps of average wind speeds find applications within renewable resources assessment and opens a route to decrease the temporal scale of analysis to meet hydrological requirements. Furthermore, the maps depicting the susceptibility to orographic rainfall enhancement can be used to improve current radar-based quantitative precipitation estimation and forecasting systems and to generate stochastic ensembles of precipitation fields conditioned upon the orography.
Support vector machines, interpolation, digital elevation models, topographic features, renewable resources, orographic rainfall
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