Geoscience Letters, Apr 2018

The simplest way to forecast geophysical processes, an engineering problem with a widely recognized challenging character, is the so-called “univariate time series forecasting” that can be implemented using stochastic or machine learning regression models within a purely statistical framework. Regression models are in general fast-implemented, in contrast to the computationally intensive Global Circulation Models, which constitute the most frequently used alternative for precipitation and temperature forecasting. For their simplicity and easy applicability, the former have been proposed as benchmarks for the latter by forecasting scientists. Herein, we assess the one-step ahead forecasting performance of 20 univariate time series forecasting methods, when applied to a large number of geophysical and simulated time series of 91 values. We use two real-world annual datasets, a dataset composed by 112 time series of precipitation and another composed by 185 time series of temperature, as well as their respective standardized datasets, to conduct several real-world experiments. We further conduct large-scale experiments using 12 simulated datasets. These datasets contain 24,000 time series in total, which are simulated using stochastic models from the families of AutoRegressive Moving Average and AutoRegressive Fractionally Integrated Moving Average. We use the first 50, 60, 70, 80 and 90 data points for model-fitting and model-validation, and make predictions corresponding to the 51st, 61st, 71st, 81st and 91st respectively. The total number of forecasts produced herein is 2,177,520, among which 47,520 are obtained using the real-world datasets. The assessment is based on eight error metrics and accuracy statistics. The simulation experiments reveal the most and least accurate methods for long-term forecasting applications, also suggesting that the simple methods may be competitive in specific cases. Regarding the results of the real-world experiments using the original (standardized) time series, the minimum and maximum medians of the absolute errors are found to be 68 mm (0.55) and 189 mm (1.42) respectively for precipitation, and 0.23 °C (0.33) and 1.10 °C (1.46) respectively for temperature. Since there is an absence of relevant information in the literature, the numerical results obtained using the standardized real-world datasets could be used as rough benchmarks for the one-step ahead predictability of annual precipitation and temperature.

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Georgia Papacharalampous, Hristos Tyralis, Demetris Koutsoyiannis.
*One-step ahead forecasting of geophysical processes within a purely statistical framework*,
Geoscience Letters,
2018, 12, DOI: 10.1186/s40562-018-0111-1