Multivariate spatially oriented data sets are prevalent in the environmental and physical sciences. Scientists seek to jointly model multiple variables, each indexed by a spatial location, to capture any underlying spatial association for each variable and associations among the different dependent variables. Multivariate latent spatial process models have proved effective in driving statistical inference and rendering better predictive inference at arbitrary locations for the spatial process. High‐dimensional multivariate spatial data, which are the theme of this article, refer to data sets where the number of spatial locations and the number of spatially dependent variables is very large. The field has witnessed substantial developments in scalable models for univariate spatial processes, but such methods for multivariate spatial processes, especially when the number of outcomes are moderately large, are limited in comparison. Here, we extend scalable modeling strategies for a single process to multivariate processes. We pursue Bayesian inference, which is attractive for full uncertainty quantification of the latent spatial process. Our approach exploits distribution theory for the matrix‐normal distribution, which we use to construct scalable versions of a hierarchical linear model of coregionalization (LMC) and spatial factor models that deliver inference over a high‐dimensional parameter space including the latent spatial process. We illustrate the computational and inferential benefits of our algorithms over competing methods using simulation studies and an analysis of a massive vegetation index data set.
A key challenge in spatial data science is the analysis for massive spatially‐referenced data sets. Such analyses often proceed from Gaussian process specifications that can produce rich and robust inference, but involve dense covariance matrices that lack computationally exploitable structures. Recent developments in spatial statistics offer a variety of massively scalable approaches. Bayesian inference and hierarchical models, in particular, have gained popularity due to their richness and flexibility in accommodating spatial processes. Our current contribution is to provide computationally efficient exact algorithms for spatial interpolation of massive data sets using scalable spatial processes. We combine low‐rank Gaussian processes with efficient sparse approximations. Following recent work by Zhang et al. (2019), we model the low‐rank process using a Gaussian predictive process (GPP) and the residual process as a sparsity‐inducing nearest‐neighbor Gaussian process (NNGP). A key contribution here is to implement these models using exact conjugate Bayesian modeling to avoid expensive iterative algorithms. Through the simulation studies, we evaluate performance of the proposed approach and the robustness of our models, especially for long range prediction. We implement our approaches for remotely sensed light detection and ranging (LiDAR) data collected over the US Forest Service Tanana Inventory Unit (TIU) in a remote portion of Interior Alaska.more » « less
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