Southern Ocean Dynamics Under Climate Change: New Knowledge Through Physics-Guided Machine Learning (Papers Track)

William J Yik (Harvey Mudd College); Maike Sonnewald (University of California, Davis); Mariana Clare (ECMWF); Redouane Lguensat (IPSL)

Paper PDF Slides PDF Poster File Recorded Talk NeurIPS 2023 Poster Cite
Oceans & Marine Systems Interpretable ML


Complex ocean systems such as the Antarctic Circumpolar Current play key roles in the climate, and current models predict shifts in their strength and area under climate change. However, the physical processes underlying these changes are not well understood, in part due to the difficulty of characterizing and tracking changes in ocean physics in complex models. Using the Antarctic Circumpolar Current as a case study, we extend the method Tracking global Heating with Ocean Regimes (THOR) to a mesoscale eddy permitting climate model and identify regions of the ocean characterized by similar physics, called dynamical regimes, using readily accessible fields from climate models. To this end, we cluster grid cells into dynamical regimes and train an ensemble of neural networks, allowing uncertainty quantification, to predict these regimes and track them under climate change. Finally, we leverage this new knowledge to elucidate the dynamical drivers of the identified regime shifts as noted by the neural network using the `explainability' methods SHAP and Layer-wise Relevance Propagation. A region undergoing a profound shift is where the Antarctic Circumpolar Current intersects the Pacific-Antarctic Ridge, an area important for carbon draw-down and fisheries. In this region, THOR specifically reveals a shift in dynamical regime under climate change driven by changes in wind stress and interactions with bathymetry. Using this knowledge to guide further exploration, we find that as the Antarctic Circumpolar Current shifts north under intensifying wind stress, the dominant dynamical role of bathymetry weakens and the flow intensifies.

Recorded Talk (direct link)