Loosely Conditioned Emulation of Global Climate Models With Generative Adversarial Networks (Papers Track)

Alex Ayala (Western Washington University); Chris Drazic (Western Washington University); Brian Hutchinson (Western Washington University); Ben Kravitz (Indiana University); Claudia Tebaldi (Joint Global Change Research Institute)

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Climate models encapsulate our best understanding of the Earth system, allowing research to be conducted on its future under alternative assumptions of how human-driven climate forces are going to evolve. An important application of climate models is to provide metrics of mean and extreme climate changes, particularly under these alternative future scenarios, as these quantities drive the impacts of climate on society and natural systems. Because of the need to explore a wide range of alternative scenarios and other sources of uncertainties in a computationally efficient manner, climate models can only take us so far, as they require significant computational resources, especially when attempting to characterize extreme events, which are rare and thus demand long and numerous simulations in order to accurately represent their changing statistics. Here we use deep learning in a proof of concept that lays the foundation for emulating global climate model output for different scenarios. We train two "loosely conditioned" Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) that emulate daily precipitation output from a fully coupled Earth system model: one GAN modeling Fall-Winter behavior and the other Spring-Summer. Our GANs are trained to produce spatiotemporal samples: 32 days of precipitation over a 64x128 regular grid discretizing the globe. We evaluate the generator with a set of related performance metrics based upon KL divergence, and find the generated samples to be nearly as well matched to the test data as the validation data is to test. We also find the generated samples to accurately estimate the mean number of dry days and mean longest dry spell in the 32 day samples. Our trained GANs can rapidly generate numerous realizations at a vastly reduced computational expense, compared to large ensembles of climate models, which greatly aids in estimating the statistics of extreme events.

Recorded Talk (direct link)