Two-Stage Artificial Intelligence Algorithm for Calculating Moisture-Tracking Atmospheric Motion Vectors

Amir Ouyed, Xubin Zeng, Longtao Wu, Derek Posselt, Hui Su

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Much of the errors of atmospheric motion vectors (AMV) may be a consequence of algorithms not incor-porating dynamical information. A physics-informed, artificial intelligence algorithm was developed that corrects errors of moisture tracking AMV (from the movement of water vapor) using numerical weather prediction (NWP) fields. The University of Arizona (UA) algorithm uses a variational method as a first step (fsUA); the second step then filters the first-stage AMVs using a random forest model that learns the error correction from NWP fields. The UA algorithm is compared with a traditional image feature tracking algorithm (JPL) using a global nature run as the “ground truth.” Experiments use global all-sky humidity fields at 500 and 850 hPa for 1–3 January 2006 and 1–3 July 2006. UA outputs AMVs with root-mean-square vector differences (RMSVDs) of 2 m s-1 for the tropics and ∼2–3 ms-1 for midlatitudes and the poles, whereas JPL outputs much higher RMSVDs of ∼3 ms-1 for the tropics and ∼3–9 ms-1 for the midlatitudes and poles. Although the algorithm fsUA produces approximately the same global RMSVDs as the JPL algorithm, fsUA has a higher resolution since it outputs an AMV per pixel, whereas the JPL algorithm uses a target box that effectively smooths the vec-tors. Furthermore, UA’s RMSVDs are lower than the intrinsic error (calculated from the differences between two reanaly-sis datasets). Even for error-prone regions with low moisture gradients and where winds are oriented along moisture isolines, UA’s absolute speed difference with “truth” stays within ∼3ms-1.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1671-1684
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Artificial intelligence
  • Cloud tracking/cloud motion winds
  • Machine learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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