Machine learning-based ozone and PM2.5 forecasting: Application to multiple AQS sites in the Pacific Northwest

Feb 24, 2023·
Kai Fan
Ranil Dhammapala
Kyle Harrington
Brian Lamb
Yunha Lee
· 0 min read
Air quality in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) of the U.S has generally been good in recent years, but unhealthy events were observed due to wildfires in summer or wood burning in winter. The current air quality forecasting system, which uses chemical transport models (CTMs), has had difficulty forecasting these unhealthy air quality events in the PNW. We developed a machine learning (ML) based forecasting system, which consists of two components, ML1 (random forest classifiers and multiple linear regression models) and ML2 (two-phase random forest regression model). Our previous study showed that the ML system provides reliable forecasts of O3 at a single monitoring site in Kennewick, WA. In this paper, we expand the ML forecasting system to predict both O3 in the wildfire season and PM2.5 in wildfire and cold seasons at all available monitoring sites in the PNW during 2017–2020, and evaluate our ML forecasts against the existing operational CTM-based forecasts. For O3, both ML1 and ML2 are used to achieve the best forecasts, which was the case in our previous study: ML2 performs better overall (R2 = 0.79), especially for low-O3 events, while ML1 correctly captures more high-O3 events. Compared to the CTM-based forecast, our O3 ML forecasts reduce the normalized mean bias (NMB) from 7.6 to 2.6% and normalized mean error (NME) from 18 to 12% when evaluating against the observation. For PM2.5, ML2 performs the best and thus is used for the final forecasts. Compared to the CTM-based PM2.5, ML2 clearly improves PM2.5 forecasts for both wildfire season (May to September) and cold season (November to February): ML2 reduces NMB (−27 to 7.9% for wildfire season; 3.4 to 2.2% for cold season) and NME (59 to 41% for wildfires season; 67 to 28% for cold season) significantly and captures more high-PM2.5 events correctly. Our ML air quality forecast system requires fewer computing resources and fewer input datasets, yet it provides more reliable forecasts than (if not, comparable to) the CTM-based forecast. It demonstrates that our ML system is a low-cost, reliable air quality forecasting system that can support regional/local air quality management.
Frontiers in Big Data, 6