Field Campaign Decision Making in Atmospheric Science Using an Automated Decision Algorithm

Open Access
Hanlon, Christopher James
Graduate Program:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
March 02, 2015
Committee Members:
  • George Young, Dissertation Advisor
  • Johannes Verlinde, Committee Chair
  • Martin Patrick Tingley, Committee Member
  • Paul Griffin, Committee Member
  • decision algorithm
  • probabilistic forecasting
  • optimization
  • dynamic programming
  • logistic regression
  • genetic algorithm
An automated decision algorithm was developed for resource deployment decisions under weather uncertainty for an atmospheric science field campaign. Scientists on the Deep Convective Clouds and Chemistry (DC3) field campaign were tasked with using aircraft to gather in-situ measurements of isolated deep convection over three separate study regions in the United States during spring-summer 2012. The DC3 campaign was budgeted a finite number of flight hours with which to sample convection and was faced with a fixed start date and end date for the field campaign, forcing them to make difficult decisions each day about whether to fly their aircraft or whether to save their flight hours for a more promising future day. To guide decision recommendations, a quantitative definition of atmospheric conditions denoting a “successful” flight and a function defining field campaign utility as a function of “successful” flights were developed through communication with DC3 principal investigators. Utility-maximizing automated decision recommendations were generated using a dynamic programming-based decision algorithm with automated forecasts of the likelihood of “successful” conditions generated by a system employing a logistic regression with parameters tuned by a genetic algorithm. The forecasts generated by the automated forecasting system showed better skill than those produced concurrently by human forecasters, and the decisions generated by the automated decision algorithm would have improved field campaign utility relative to the decisions made by human decision-makers.