Extreme Precipitation Nowcasting using Transformer-based Generative models

More Info


Extreme precipitation, like floods and landslides, poses major risks to safety and the economy, underscoring the need for sophisticated weather forecasting to predict these events accurately, enhancing readiness and resilience. Nowcasting, which uses real-time atmospheric data to predict short-term weather, is key in addressing this challenge. Traditional nowcasting systems, reliant on extrapolation from rainfall radar observations and constrained by simplistic physical assumptions, often struggle to detect complex, nonlinear weather patterns. This gap has opened the door for deep learning models, which have shown significant promise in improving the accuracy and reliability of short-term weather predictions, making them a focal point of recent research and the basis of this thesis's approach.

This thesis introduces a deep generative model designed for the nowcasting of extreme precipitation events up to 3 hours ahead, utilizing a Vector-Quantized Variational Autoencoder (VQ-VAE) to compress radar data into a low-dimensional latent representation, and an Autoregressive Transformer for predicting future radar images. Additionally, a binary classifier works in conjunction with the Autoregressive Transformer to identify extreme versus non-extreme weather events, using these classifications to inform an Extreme Value Loss (EVL) function. This loss function aims to improve the accuracy of predicting extreme weather events by addressing the data imbalance between normal and extreme precipitation occurrences. The proposed model displays comparable performance with the state-of-the-art conventional methods and other deep learning nowcasting models in predicting extreme events.