Emulating the Adaptation of Wind Fields to Complex Terrain with Deep Learning

Toumelin, Louis Le ; Gouttevin, Isabelle ; Helbig, Nora ; Galiez, Clovis ; Roux, Mathis ; Karbou, Fatima

Année de publication
<p align=justify>Estimating the impact of wind-driven snow transport requires modeling wind fields with a lower grid spacing than the spacing on the order of 1 or a few kilometers used in the current numerical weather prediction (NWP) systems. In this context, we introduce a new strategy to downscale wind fields from NWP systems to decametric scales, using high-resolution (30 m) topographic information. Our method (named 'DEVINE') is leveraged on a convolutional neural network (CNN), trained to replicate the behavior of the complex atmospheric model ARPS, and was previously run on a large number (7279) of synthetic Gaussian topographies under controlled weather conditions. A 10-fold cross validation reveals that our CNN is able to accurately emulate the behavior of ARPS (mean absolute error for wind speed = 0.16 m s−1). We then apply DEVINE to real cases in the Alps, that is, downscaling wind fields forecast by the AROME NWP system using information from real alpine topographies. DEVINE proved able to reproduce main features of wind fields in complex terrain (acceleration on ridges, leeward deceleration, and deviations around obstacles). Furthermore, an evaluation on quality-checked observations acquired at 61 sites in the French Alps reveals improved behavior of the downscaled winds (AROME wind speed mean bias is reduced by 27% with DEVINE), especially at the most elevated and exposed stations. Wind direction is, however, only slightly modified. Hence, despite some current limitations inherited from the ARPS simulations setup, DEVINE appears to be an efficient downscaling tool whose minimalist architecture, low input data requirements (NWP wind fields and high-resolution topography), and competitive computing times may be attractive for operational applications. Significance Statement Wind largely influences the spatial distribution of snow in mountains, with direct consequences on hydrology and avalanche hazard. Most operational models predicting wind in complex terrain use a grid spacing on the order of several kilometers, too coarse to represent the real patterns of mountain winds. We introduce a novel method based on deep learning to increase this spatial resolution while maintaining acceptable computational costs. Our method mimics the behavior of a complex model that is able to represent part of the complexity of mountain winds by using topographic information only. We compared our results with observations collected in complex terrain and showed that our model improves the representation of winds, notably at the most elevated and exposed observation stations. </p>
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