EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Synthetic Generation of Extra-Tropical Cyclones’ fields with Generative Adversarial Networks

Filippo Dainelli1, Riccardo Taormina2, Guido Ascenso1, Enrico Scoccimarro3, Matteo Giuliani1, and Andrea Castelletti1
Filippo Dainelli et al.
  • 1Politecnico di Milano, Department of Electronics, Information and Bioengineering, Italy (
  • 2Department of Water Management, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Delft University of Technology, Delft, the Netherlands
  • 3La fondazione Centro Euro-Mediterraneo sui Cambiamenti Climatici (CMCC), Bologna, Italy

Extra-Tropical Cyclones are major systems ruling and influencing the atmospheric structure at mid-latitudes. They are characterised by strong winds and heavy precipitation, and can cause considerable storm surges potentially devastating for coastal regions. The availability of historical observations of the extreme events caused by intense ETCs are rather limited, hampering risk evaluation. Increasing the amount of significant data available would substantially help several fields of analysis influenced by these events, such as coastal management, agricultural production, energy distribution, air and maritime transportation, and risk assessment and management.

Here, we address the possibility of generating synthetic ETC atmospheric fields of mean sea level pressure, wind speed, and precipitation in the North Atlantic by training a Generative Adversarial Network (GAN). The purpose of GANs is to learn the distribution of a training set based on a game theoretic scenario where two networks compete against each other, the generator and the discriminator. The former is trained to generate synthetic examples that are plausible and resemble the real ones. The input of the generator is a vector of random Gaussian values, whose domain is known as the “latent space”. The discriminator learns to distinguish whether an example comes from the dataset distribution. The competition set by the game-theoretic approach improves the network until the counterfeits are indistinguishable from the originals.

To train the GAN, we use atmospheric fields extracted from the ERA5 reanalysis dataset in the geographic domain with boundaries 0°- 90°N, 70°W - 20°E and for the period 1st January 1979 - 1st January 2020. We analyse the generated samples’ histograms, the samples’ average fields, the Wasserstein distance and the Kullback-Leibler divergence between the generated samples and the test set distributions. Results show that the generative model has learned the distribution of the values of the atmospheric fields and the general spatial trends of the atmosphere in the domain. To evaluate better the atmospheric structure learned by the network, we perform linear and spherical interpolations in the latent space. Specifically, we consider four cyclones and compare the frames of their tracks to those of the synthetic tracks generated by interpolation. The interpolated tracks show interesting features consistent with the original tracks. These findings suggest that GANs can learn meaningful representations of the ETCs’ fields, encouraging further investigations to model the tracks’ temporal evolution.

How to cite: Dainelli, F., Taormina, R., Ascenso, G., Scoccimarro, E., Giuliani, M., and Castelletti, A.: Synthetic Generation of Extra-Tropical Cyclones’ fields with Generative Adversarial Networks, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-8419,, 2023.