Optical Flow for Verification
Weather and forecasting
Modern numerical weather prediction (NWP) models produce forecasts that are gridded spatial fields. Digital images can also be viewed as gridded spatial fields, and as such, techniques from image analysis can be employed to address the problem of verification of NWP forecasts. One technique for estimating how images change temporally is called optical flow, where it is assumed that temporal changes in images (e.g., in a video) can be represented as a fluid flowing in some manner. Multiple
... ations of the general idea have already been employed in verification problems as well as in data assimilation. Here, a specific formulation of optical flow, called Lucas-Kanade, is reviewed and generalized as a tool for estimating three components of forecast error: intensity and two components of displacement, direction and distance. The method is illustrated first on simulated data, and then on a 418-day series of 24-h forecasts of sea level pressure from one member [the Global Forecast System (GFS)-fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University-National Center for Atmospheric Research Mesoscale Model (MM5)] of the University of Washington's Mesoscale Ensemble system. The simulation study confirms (and quantifies) the expectation that the method correctly assesses forecast errors. The method is also applied to a real dataset consisting of 418 twenty-four-hour forecasts spanning , demonstrating its value for analyzing NWP model performance. Results reveal a significant intensity bias in the subtropics, especially in the southern California region. They also expose a systematic east-northeast or downstream bias of approximately 50 km over land, possibly due to the treatment of terrain in the coarse-resolution model.