Learning to forecast diagnostic parameters using pre-trained weather embedding (Papers Track) Spotlight

Peetak Mitra (Excarta); Vivek Ramavajjala (Excarta)

Paper PDF Poster File Recorded Talk NeurIPS 2023 Poster Cite
Climate Science & Modeling Hybrid Physical Models


Data-driven weather prediction (DDWP) models are increasingly becoming popular for weather forecasting. However, while operational weather forecasts predict a wide variety of weather variables, DDWPs currently forecast a specific set of key prognostic variables. Non-prognostic ("diagnostic") variables are sometimes modeled separately as dependent variables of the prognostic variables (c.f. FourCastNet \cite{pathak2022fourcastnet}), or by including the diagnostic variable as a target in the DDWP. However, the cost of training and deploying bespoke models for each diagnostic variable can increase dramatically with more diagnostic variables, and limit the operational use of such models. Likewise, retraining an entire DDWP each time a new diagnostic variable is added is also cost-prohibitive. We present an two-stage approach that allows new diagnostic variables to be added to an end-to-end DDWP model without the expensive retraining. In the first stage, we train an autoencoder that learns to embed prognostic variables into a latent space. In the second stage, the autoencoder is frozen and "downstream" models are trained to predict diagnostic variables using only the latent representations of prognostic variables as input. Our experiments indicate that models trained using the two-stage approach offer accuracy comparable to training bespoke models, while leading to significant reduction in resource utilization during training and inference. This approach allows for new "downstream" models to be developed as needed, without affecting existing models and thus reducing the friction in operationalizing new models.

Recorded Talk (direct link)