A Self-Organizing Map-Based Approach to Generating Reduced-Size, Statistically Similar Climate Datasets

Wednesday, 16 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Ryan Cabell, Luca Delle Monache and Stefano Alessandrini, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, United States
Climate-based studies require large amounts of data in order to produce accurate and reliable results. Many of these studies have used 30-plus year data sets in order to produce stable and high-quality results, and as a result, many such data sets are available, generally in the form of global reanalyses. While the analysis of these data lead to high-fidelity results, its processing can be very computationally expensive. This computational burden prevents the utilization of these data sets for certain applications, e.g., when rapid response is needed in crisis management and disaster planning scenarios resulting from release of toxic material in the atmosphere.

We have developed a methodology to reduce large climate datasets to more manageable sizes while retaining statistically similar results when used to produce ensembles of possible outcomes. We do this by employing a Self-Organizing Map (SOM) algorithm to analyze general patterns of meteorological fields over a regional domain of interest to produce a small set of “typical days” with which to generate the model ensemble. The SOM algorithm takes as input a set of vectors and generates a 2D map of representative vectors deemed most similar to the input set and to each other. Input predictors are selected that are correlated with the model output, which in our case is an Atmospheric Transport and Dispersion (T&D) model that is highly dependent on surface winds and boundary layer depth. To choose a subset of “typical days,” each input day is assigned to its closest SOM map node vector and then ranked by distance. Each node vector is treated as a distribution and days are sampled from them by percentile.

Using a 30-node SOM, with sampling every 20th percentile, we have been able to reduce 30 years of the Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR) data for the month of October to 150 “typical days.” To estimate the skill of this approach, the “Measure of Effectiveness” (MOE) metric is used to compare area and overlap of statistical exceedance between the reduced data set and the full 30-year CFSR dataset. Using the MOE, we find that our SOM-derived climate subset produces statistics that fall within 85-90% overlap with the full set while using only 15% of the total data length, and consequently, 15% of the computational time required to run the T&D model for the full period.