21 Nov 2022
 | 21 Nov 2022

Forecasting tropical cyclone tracks in the Northwest Pacific based on a deep-learning model

Liang Wang, Bingcheng Wan, Shaohui Zhou, Haofei Sun, and Zhiqiu Gao

Abstract. Tropical cyclones (TCs) are one of the most severe meteorological disasters, making rapid and accurate track forecasts crucial for disaster prevention and mitigation. Because TC tracks are affected by various factors (the steering flow, thermal structure of the underlying surface, and atmospheric circulation), their trajectories present highly complex nonlinear behavior. Deep learning has many advantages in simulating nonlinear systems. In this paper, we explore the movement of TCs in the Northwest Pacific from 1979 to 2021 based on deep-learning technology, divided into training (1979–2014), validation (2015–2018), and test sets (2019–2021), and create 6–72 h TC track forecasts. Only historical trajectory data are used as input for evaluating the forecasts of the three recurrent neural networks utilized: recurrent neural network (RNN), long short-term memory (LSTM), and gated recurrent unit (GRU) models. The GRU approach performed best; to further improve forecast accuracy, a model combining GRU and a convolutional neural network (CNN) called GRU_CNN is proposed to capture the characteristics varying with time. By adding reanalysis data of the steering flow, sea-surface temperatures, and geopotential height around the cyclone, we can extract sufficient information on the historical trajectory features and three-dimensional spatial features. The results show that GRU_CNN outperforms other deep-learning models without CNN layers. Furthermore, by analyzing three additional environmental factors through control experiments, it can be concluded that the historical steering flow of TCs plays a key role, especially for short-term predictions within 24 h, while sea-surface temperatures and geopotential height can gradually improve the 24–72-h forecast. The average distance errors at 6 h and 12 h are 17.22 km and 43.90 km, respectively. Compared with the forecast results of the Central Meteorological Observatory, the model proposed herein is suitable for short-term forecasting of TC tracks.

Liang Wang et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-1216', Anonymous Referee #1, 09 Dec 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC1', Liang Wang, 23 Jan 2023
  • CEC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-1216', Juan Antonio Añel, 12 Dec 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on CEC1', Liang Wang, 18 Dec 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-1216', Quan Nguyen, 25 Dec 2022
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC2', Liang Wang, 23 Jan 2023

Liang Wang et al.


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Short summary
The past 24-h TC trajectory and meteorological field data were used to forecast TC tracks in the Northwest Pacific from hours 6–72 based on GRU_CNN we proposed in this paper, which has better prediction results than traditional single deep-learning methods. The historical steering flow of cyclones has a significant effect on improving the accuracy of short-term forecasting, while, in long-term forecasting, the SST and geopotential height will have a particular impact.