DiffObs: Generative Diffusion for Global Forecasting of Satellite Observations (Papers Track)

Jason Stock (Colorado State University); Jaideep Pathak (NVIDIA Corporation); Yair Cohen (NVIDIA Corporation); Mike Pritchard (NVIDIA Corporation); Piyush Garg (NVIDIA); Dale Durran (NVIDIA Corporation); Morteza Mardani (NVIDIA Corporation); Noah D Brenowitz (NVIDIA)

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Climate Science & Modeling Computer Vision & Remote Sensing Generative Modeling


This work presents an autoregressive generative diffusion model (DiffObs) to predict the global evolution of daily precipitation, trained on a satellite observational product, and assessed with domain-specific diagnostics. The model is trained to probabilistically forecast day-ahead precipitation. Nonetheless, it is stable for multi-month rollouts, which reveal a qualitatively realistic superposition of convectively coupled wave modes in the tropics. Cross-spectral analysis confirms successful generation of low frequency variations associated with the Madden--Julian oscillation, which regulates most subseasonal to seasonal predictability in the observed atmosphere, and convectively coupled moist Kelvin waves with approximately correct dispersion relationships. Despite secondary issues and biases, the results affirm the potential for a next generation of global diffusion models trained on increasingly sparse, and increasingly direct and differentiated observations of the world, for practical applications in subseasonal and climate prediction.