Improving Multi-Model Ensemble Forecasts of Tropical Cyclone Intensity Using Bayesian Model Averaging
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This paper proposes a method for multi-model ensemble forecasting based on Bayesian model averaging (BMA), aiming to improve the accuracy of tropical cyclone (TC) intensity forecasts, especially forecasts of minimum surface pressure at the cyclone center (Pmin). The multi-model ensemble comprises three operational forecast models: the Global Forecast System (GFS) of NCEP, the Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting (HWRF) models of NCEP, and the Integrated Forecasting System (IFS) of ECMWF. The mean of a predictive distribution is taken as the BMA forecast. In this investigation, bias correction of the minimum surface pressure was applied at each forecast lead time, and the distribution (or probability density function, PDF) of Pmin was used and transformed. Based on summer season forecasts for three years, we found that the intensity errors in TC forecast from the three models varied significantly. The HWRF had a much smaller intensity error for short lead-time forecasts. To demonstrate the proposed methodology, cross validation was implemented to ensure more efficient use of the sample data and more reliable testing. Comparative analysis shows that BMA for this three-model ensemble, after bias correction and distribution transformation, provided more accurate forecasts than did the best of the ensemble members (HWRF), with a 5%–7% decrease in root-mean-square error on average. BMA also outperformed the multi-model ensemble, and it produced “predictive variance” that represented the forecast uncertainty of the member models. In a word, the BMA method used in the multi-model ensemble forecasting was successful in TC intensity forecasts, and it has the potential to be applied to routine operational forecasting.
Key wordstropical cyclone Bayesian model average intensity bias correction forecast uncertainty ensemble forecast
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The authors thank NCEP/EMC for the instruction on understanding and applying the EMC’s advanced technology in tropical cyclone forecasting and post-processing of ensemble forecasts, in particular for setting up the BMA algorithm. With their help, the first author was able to carry out an operational forecast experiment at the National Marine Environmental Forecasting Center of China and to implement related forecasting techniques applicable to operational marine forecasting in China. The authors also thank Mr. Eric Sinsky for English grammar editing.
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