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Keywords:

  • wind speed interpolation;
  • digital elevation model;
  • topographic features;
  • nonparametric regression;
  • artificial neural networks;
  • variable selection;
  • wind seasonality;
  • Switzerland

ABSTRACT

This paper presents the general regression neural networks (GRNN) as a nonlinear regression method for the interpolation of monthly wind speeds in complex Alpine orography. GRNN is trained using data coming from Swiss meteorological networks to learn the statistical relationship between topographic features and wind speed. The terrain convexity, slope and exposure are considered by extracting features from the digital elevation model at different spatial scales using specialised convolution filters. A database of gridded monthly wind speeds is then constructed by applying GRNN in prediction mode during the period 1968–2008. This study demonstrates that using topographic features as inputs in GRNN significantly reduces cross-validation errors with respect to low-dimensional models integrating only geographical coordinates and terrain height for the interpolation of wind speed. The spatial predictability of wind speed is found to be lower in summer than in winter due to more complex and weaker wind-topography relationships. The relevance of these relationships is studied using an adaptive version of the GRNN algorithm which allows to select the useful terrain features by eliminating the noisy ones. This research provides a framework for extending the low-dimensional interpolation models to high-dimensional spaces by integrating additional features accounting for the topographic conditions at multiple spatial scales. Copyright © 2012 Royal Meteorological Society