ClimaX: A foundation model for weather and climate (Papers Track) Spotlight

Tung Nguyen (University of California, Los Angeles); Johannes Brandstetter (Microsoft Research); Ashish Kapoor (Microsoft); Jayesh Gupta (Microsoft Research); Aditya Grover (UCLA)

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Abstract

Recent data-driven approaches based on machine learning aim to directly solve a downstream forecasting or projection task by learning a data-driven functional mapping using deep neural networks. However, these networks are trained using curated and homogeneous climate datasets for specific spatiotemporal tasks, and thus lack the generality of currently used physics-informed numerical models for weather and climate modeling. We develop and demonstrate ClimaX, a flexible and generalizable deep learning model for weather and climate science that can be trained using heterogeneous datasets spanning different variables, spatiotemporal coverage, and physical groundings. ClimaX extends the Transformer architecture with novel encoding and aggregation blocks that allow effective use of available compute and data while maintaining general utility. ClimaX is pre-trained with a self-supervised learning objective on climate datasets derived from CMIP6. The pretrained ClimaX can then be fine-tuned to address a breadth of climate and weather tasks, including those that involve atmospheric variables and spatiotemporal scales unseen during pretraining. Compared to existing data-driven baselines, we show that this generality in ClimaX results in superior performance on benchmarks for weather forecasting and climate projections.