Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/wcd-2022-29
https://doi.org/10.5194/wcd-2022-29
 
17 May 2022
17 May 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal WCD.

Objective identification of high-wind features within extratropical cyclones using a probabilistic random forest (RAMEFI). Part I: Method and illustrative case studies

Lea Eisenstein1, Benedikt Schulz2, Ghulam A. Qadir3, Joaquim G. Pinto1, and Peter Knippertz1 Lea Eisenstein et al.
  • 1Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany
  • 2Institute for Stochastics, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany
  • 3Heidelberg Institute of Theoretical Studies, Heidelberg, Germany

Abstract. Strong winds associated with extratropical cyclones are one of the most dangerous natural hazards in Europe. These high winds are mostly associated with five mesoscale dynamical features, namely the warm (conveyor belt) jet (WJ), the cold (conveyor belt) jet (CJ), cold-frontal convective gusts (CFC), strong cold sector winds (CS) and – at least in some storms - the sting jet (SJ). The timing within the cyclone’s lifecycle, the location relative to the cyclone core and some further characteristics differ between these features and hence likely also the associated forecast errors. Here we present a novel objective identification approach for these high-wind features using a probabilistic random forest (RF) based on each feature’s most important characteristics in near-surface wind, rainfall, pressure and temperature evolution. As CJ and SJ are difficult to distinguish in near-surface observations alone, these two features are considered together here. A strength of the identification method is that it works flexibly and independent of spatial dependencies and gradients, such that it can be applied to irregularly spaced surface observations and to gridded analyses and forecasts of different resolution in a consistent way. As a reference for the RF, we subjectively identify the four storm features (WJ, CS, CFC, CJ+SJ) in 12 winter storm cases between 2015 and 2020 in both hourly surface observations and high-resolution reanalyses of the German COSMO model over Europe, using an interactive data analysis and visualisation tool. The RF is then trained on station observations only. The RF learns physically consistent relations and reveals mean sea-level pressure (tendency), potential temperature, precipitation amount and wind direction to be most important for the distinction between the features. From the RF we get probabilities of each feature occurring at the single stations, which can be interpolated into areal information using Kriging. The results show a reliable identification for all features, especially for WJ and CFC. We find difficulties in the distinction of CJ and CS in extreme cases, as the features have rather similar meteorological characteristics. Mostly consistent results in observations and reanalysis data suggest that the novel approach can be applied to other data sets without a need of adaptation. Our new method RAMEFI (RAndom-forest based MEsoscale wind-Feature Identification) is made publicly available for straightforward use by the atmospheric community, and enables a wide range of applications, e. g., towards a climatology of these features for multi-decadal time periods (see Part II), analysing forecast errors in high-resolution COSMO ensemble forecasts and to develop feature dependent postprocessing procedures.

Lea Eisenstein et al.

Status: open (until 30 Jul 2022)

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Lea Eisenstein et al.

Model code and software

RAMEFI (RAndom-forest based MEsoscale wind Feature Identification) Eisenstein, L., Schulz, B., Qadir, G. A., Pinto, J. G. and Knippertz, P. https://zenodo.org/record/6541303

Video supplement

Objective identification of high-wind features within extratropical cyclones using a probabilistic random forest (RAMEFI). Part I: Method and illustrative case studies - Video Supplement Eisenstein, L., Schulz, B., Qadir, G. A., Pinto, J. G. and Knippertz, P. https://zenodo.org/record/6541277

Lea Eisenstein et al.

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Short summary
Mesoscale high-wind features within extratropical cyclones can cause immense damage. Here, we present RAMEFI, a novel approach to objectively identify the wind features based on a probabilistic random forest. RAMEFI enables a wide range of applications such as probabilistic predictions for the occurrence or a multi-decadal climatology of these features, which will be the focus of Part II of the study, with the goal of improving wind and specifically wind gust forecasts in the long run.