Science through Machine Learning: Quantification of Poststorm Thermospheric Cooling

by   Richard J. Licata, et al.

Machine learning (ML) is often viewed as a black-box regression technique that is unable to provide considerable scientific insight. ML models are universal function approximators and - if used correctly - can provide scientific information related to the ground-truth dataset used for fitting. A benefit to ML over parametric models is that there are no predefined basis functions limiting the phenomena that can be modeled. In this work, we develop ML models on three datasets: the Space Environment Technologies (SET) High Accuracy Satellite Drag Model (HASDM) density database, a spatiotemporally matched dataset of outputs from the Jacchia-Bowman 2008 Empirical Thermospheric Density Model (JB2008), and an accelerometer-derived density dataset from CHAllenging Minisatellite Payload (CHAMP). These ML models are compared to the Naval Research Laboratory Mass Spectrometer and Incoherent Scatter radar (NRLMSIS 2.0) model to study the presence of post-storm cooling in the middle-thermosphere. We find that both NRLMSIS 2.0 and JB2008-ML do not account for post-storm cooling and consequently perform poorly in periods following strong geomagnetic storms (e.g. the 2003 Halloween storms). Conversely, HASDM-ML and CHAMP-ML do show evidence of post-storm cooling indicating that this phenomenon is present in the original datasets. Results show that density reductions up to 40 the strength of the storm.


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