Causal & Bayesian Methods

Workshop Papers

Venue Title
NeurIPS 2023 A Causal Discovery Approach To Learn How Urban Form Shapes Sustainable Mobility Across Continents (Papers Track)
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Abstract: For low carbon transport planning it's essential to grasp the location-specific cause-and-effect mechanisms that the built environment has on travel. Yet, current research falls short in representing causal relationships between the "6D" urban form variables and travel, generalizing across different regions, and modelling urban form effects at high spatial resolution. Here, we address these gaps by utilizing a causal discovery and an explainable machine learning framework to detect urban form effects on intra-city travel emissions based on high-resolution mobility data of six cities across three continents. We show that distance to center, demographics and density indirectly affect other urban form features and that location-specific influences align across cities, yet vary in magnitude. In addition, the spread of the city and the coverage of jobs across the city are the strongest determinants of travel-related emissions, highlighting the benefits of compact development and associated benefits. Our work is a starting point for location-specific analysis of urban form effects on mobility using causal discovery approaches, which is highly relevant municipalities across continents.

Authors: Felix Wagner (TU Berlin, MCC Berlin); Florian Nachtigall (MCC Berlin); Lukas B Franken (University of Edinburgh); Nikola Milojevic-Dupont (Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC)); Marta C. González (Berkeley); Jakob Runge (TU Berlin); Rafael Pereira (IPEA); Felix Creutzig (Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC))

NeurIPS 2023 The built environment and induced transport CO2 emissions: A double machine learning approach to account for residential self-selection (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Understanding why travel behavior differs between residents of urban centers and suburbs is key to sustainable urban planning. Especially in light of rapid urban growth, identifying housing locations that minimize travel demand and induced CO2 emissions is crucial to mitigate climate change. While the built environment plays an important role, the precise impact on travel behavior is obfuscated by residential self-selection. To address this issue, we propose a double machine learning approach to obtain unbiased, spatially-explicit estimates of the effect of the built environment on travel-related CO2 emissions for each neighborhood by controlling for residential self-selection. We examine how socio-demographics and travel-related attitudes moderate the effect and how it decomposes across the 5Ds of the built environment. Based on a case study for Berlin and the travel diaries of 32,000 residents, we find that the built environment causes household travel-related CO2 emissions to differ by a factor of almost two between central and suburban neighborhoods in Berlin. To highlight the practical importance for urban climate mitigation, we evaluate current plans for 64,000 new residential units in terms of total induced transport CO2 emissions. Our findings underscore the significance of spatially differentiated compact development to decarbonize the transport sector.

Authors: Florian Nachtigall (Technical University of Berlin); Felix Wagner (TU Berlin, MCC Berlin); Peter Berrill (Technical University of Berlin); Felix Creutzig (Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC))

NeurIPS 2023 Gaussian Processes for Monitoring Air-Quality in Kampala (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Monitoring air pollution is of vital importance to the overall health of the population. Unfortunately, devices that can measure air quality can be expensive, and many cities in low and middle-income countries have to rely on a sparse allocation of them. In this paper, we investigate the use of Gaussian Processes for both nowcasting the current air-pollution in places where there are no sensors and forecasting the air-pollution in the future at the sensor locations. In particular, we focus on the city of Kampala in Uganda, using data from AirQo's network of sensors. We demonstrate the advantage of removing outliers, compare different kernel functions and additional inputs. We also compare two sparse approximations to allow for the large amounts of temporal data in the dataset.

Authors: Clara Stoddart (Imperial College London); Lauren Shrack (Massachusetts Institute of Technology); Usman Abdul-Ganiy (AirQo, Makerere University); Richard Sserunjogi (AirQo, Makerere University); Engineer Bainomugisha (AirQo, Makerere University); Deo Okure (AirQo, Makerere University); Ruth Misener (Imperial College London); Jose Pablo Folch (Imperial College London); Ruby Sedgwick (Imperial College London)

NeurIPS 2023 Towards Causal Representations of Climate Model Data (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Climate models, such as Earth system models (ESMs), are crucial for simulating future climate change based on projected Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSP) greenhouse gas emissions scenarios. While ESMs are sophisticated and invaluable, machine learning-based emulators trained on existing simulation data can project additional climate scenarios much faster and are computationally efficient. However, they often lack generalizability and interpretability. This work delves into the potential of causal representation learning, specifically the Causal Discovery with Single-parent Decoding (CDSD) method, which could render climate model emulation efficient and interpretable. We evaluate CDSD on multiple climate datasets, focusing on emissions, temperature, and precipitation. Our findings shed light on the challenges, limitations, and promise of using CDSD as a stepping stone towards more interpretable and robust climate model emulation.

Authors: Julien Boussard (Columbia University); Chandni Nagda (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign); Julia Kaltenborn (McGill University); Charlotte Lange (Mila); Yaniv Gurwicz (Intel Labs); Peer Nowack (Grantham Institute, Imperial College London. Department of Physics, Imperial College. Data Science Institute, Imperial College. School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia); David Rolnick (McGill University, Mila)

NeurIPS 2023 Exploring Causal Relationship between Environment and Drizzle Properties using Machine Learning (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Cloud and precipitation properties are controlled by both local and large-scale forcings. Current weather and climate models represent clouds and precipitation through parameterizations that are based on theoretical relationships between environment, clouds, and precipitation. However, these relationships vary considerably among different weather and cloud conditions, thereby leading to inaccurate simulation of cloud and precipitation properties. In this study, we use observations from a site in the Eastern North Atlantic Ocean (28W, 39.5N) to establish a potential causal relationship between large-scale environment, cloud, and precipitation properties. We estimate the structure of a directed acyclic graph (DAG) with the NOTEARS algorithm (Non-combinatorial Optimization via Trace Exponential and Augmented lagRangian for Structure learning) (Zheng et al., 2018 \cite{Zheng2018DAGsLearning}) with a multi-layer perceptron (MLP) neural network classification architecture. We classify liquid water path (LWP), rain rate, and rain drop diameter in two classes based on lower and upper quantiles to identify the governing mechanisms responsible for the two tails of the distribution. We also invoke Random Forest classification to compare our causal model results with conventional decision tree-based approaches. We hypothesize the dominant role of cloud LWP and net radiative cooling in controlling the cloud and precipitation properties. In this way, this study demonstrates the application of a causal machine learning method to identify which environmental properties potentially control cloud and precipitation development. These results will be extremely valuable to both observational and numerical modeling communities as they could help improve the current parameterizations in the weather and climate models.

Authors: Piyush Garg (Argonne National Laboratory); Virendra Ghate (Argonne National Laboratory); Maria Cadeddu (Argonne National Laboratory); Bethany Lusch (Argonne National Lab)

NeurIPS 2023 Domain Adaptation for Sustainable Soil Management using Causal and Contrastive Constraint Minimization (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Monitoring organic matter is pivotal for maintaining soil health and can help inform sustainable soil management practices. While sensor-based soil information offers higher-fidelity and reliable insights into organic matter changes, sampling and measuring sensor data is cost-prohibitive. We propose a multi-modal, scalable framework that can estimate organic matter from remote sensing data, a more readily available data source while leveraging sparse soil information for improving generalization. Using the sensor data, we preserve underlying causal relations among sensor attributes and organic matter. Simultaneously we leverage inherent structure in the data and train the model to discriminate among domains using contrastive learning. This causal and contrastive constraint minimization ensures improved generalization and adaptation to other domains. We also shed light on the interpretability of the framework by identifying attributes that are important for improving generalization. Identifying these key soil attributes that affect organic matter will aid in efforts to standardize data collection efforts.

Authors: Somya Sharma (U. Minnesota); Swati Sharma (Microsoft Research); RAFAEL PADILHA (Microsoft Research); Emre Kiciman (Microsoft Research); Ranveer Chandra (Microsoft Research)

NeurIPS 2023 Causality and Explainability for Trustworthy Integrated Pest Management (Proposals Track)
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Abstract: Pesticides, widely used in agriculture for pest control, contribute to the climate crisis. Integrated pest management (IPM) is preferred as a climate-smart alternative. However, low adoption rates of IPM are observed due to farmers' skepticism about its effectiveness, so we introduce an enhancing data analysis framework for IPM to combat that. Our framework provides i) robust pest population predictions across diverse environments with invariant and causal learning, ii) interpretable pest presence predictions using transparent models, iii) actionable advice through counterfactual explanations for in-season IPM interventions, iv) field-specific treatment effect estimations, and v) causal inference to assess advice effectiveness.

Authors: Ilias Tsoumas (National Observatory of Athens); Vasileios Sitokonstantinou (University of Valencia); Georgios Giannarakis (National Observatory of Athens); Evagelia Lampiri (University of Thessaly); Christos Athanassiou (University of Thessaly); Gustau Camps-Valls (Universitat de València); Charalampos Kontoes (National Observatory of Athens); Ioannis N Athanasiadis (Wageningen University and Research)

ICLR 2023 Disentangling observation biases to monitor spatio-temporal shifts in species distributions (Proposals Track)
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Abstract: The accelerated pace of environmental change due to anthropogenic activities makes it more important than ever to understand current and future ecosystem dynamics at a global scale. Species observations stemming from citizen science platforms are increasingly leveraged to gather information about the geographic distributions of many species. However, their usability is limited by the strong biases inherent to these community-driven efforts. These biases in the sampling effort are often treated as noise that has to be compensated for. In this project, we posit that better modelling the sampling effort (including the usage of the different platforms across countries, local accessibility, attractiveness of the location for platform users, affinity of different user groups for different species, etc.) is the key towards improving Species Distribution Models (SDM) using observations from citizen science platforms, thus opening up the possibility of leveraging them to monitor changes in species distributions and population densities.

Authors: Diego Marcos (Inria); Christophe Botella (); Ilan Havinga (Wageningen University); Dino Ienco (INRAE); Cassio F. Dantas (TETIS, INRAE, Univ Montpellier); Pierre Alliez (INRIA Sophie-Antipolis, France); Alexis Joly (INRIA, FR)

ICLR 2023 Bayesian Inference of Severe Hail in Australia (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Severe hailstorms are responsible for some of the most costly insured weather events in Australia and can cause significant damage to homes, businesses, and agriculture. However their response to climate change remains uncertain, in large part due to the challenges of observing severe hailstorms. We propose a novel Bayesian approach which explicitly models known biases and uncertainties of current hail observations to produce more realistic estimates of severe hail risk from existing observations. Training this model on data from south-east Queensland, Australia, suggests that previous analyses of severe hail that did not account for this uncertainty may produce poorly calibrated risk estimates. Preliminary evaluation on withheld data confirms that our model produces well-calibrated probabilities and is applicable out of sample. Whilst developed for hail, we highlight also the generality of our model and its potential applications to other severe weather phenomena and areas of climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Authors: Isabelle C Greco (University of New South Wales); Steven Sherwood (University of New South Wales); Timothy Raupach (University of New South Wales); Gab Abramowitz (University of New South Wales)

NeurIPS 2022 Bayesian inference for aerosol vertical profiles (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Aerosol-cloud interactions constitute the largest source of uncertainty in assessments of the anthropogenic climate change. This uncertainty arises in part from the difficulty in measuring the vertical distributions of aerosols. We often have to settle for less informative vertically aggregated proxies such as aerosol optical depth (AOD). In this work, we develop a framework to infer vertical aerosol profiles using AOD and readily available vertically resolved meteorological predictors such as temperature or relative humidity. We devise a simple Gaussian process prior over aerosol vertical profiles and update it with AOD observations. We validate our approach using ECHAM-HAM aerosol-climate model data. Our results show that, while simple, our model is able to reconstruct realistic extinction profiles with well-calibrated uncertainty. In particular, the model demonstrates a faithful reconstruction of extinction patterns arising from aerosol water uptake in the boundary layer.

Authors: Shahine Bouabid (University of Oxford); Duncan Watson-Parris (University of Oxford); Dino Sejdinovic (University of Adelaide)

NeurIPS 2022 Short-term Prediction and Filtering of Solar Power Using State-Space Gaussian Processes (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Short-term forecasting of solar photovoltaic energy (PV) production is important for powerplant management. Ideally these forecasts are equipped with error bars, so that downstream decisions can account for uncertainty. To produce predictions with error bars in this setting, we consider Gaussian processes (GPs) for modelling and predicting solar photovoltaic energy production in the UK. A standard application of GP regression on the PV timeseries data is infeasible due to the large data size and non-Gaussianity of PV readings. However, this is made possible by leveraging recent advances in scalable GP inference, in particular, by using the state-space form of GPs, combined with modern variational inference techniques. The resulting model is not only scalable to large datasets but can also handle continuous data streams via Kalman filtering.

Authors: So Takao (UCL); Sean Nassimiha (UCL); Peter Dudfield (Open Climate Fix); Jack Kelly (Open Climate Fix); Marc Deisenroth (University College London)

NeurIPS 2022 Identifying latent climate signals using sparse hierarchical Gaussian processes (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Extracting latent climate signals from multiple climate model simulations is important to estimate future climate change. To tackle this we develop a sparse hierarchical Gaussian process (SHGP), which probabilistically learns a latent distribution from a set of vectors. We use this to predict the latent surface temperature change globally and for central England from an ensemble of climate models, in a scalable manner and with robust uncertainty propagation.

Authors: Matt Amos (Lancaster University); Thomas Pinder (Lancaster University); Paul Young (Lancaster University)

NeurIPS 2022 Bridging the Microwave Data Gap; Using Bayesian Deep Learning to “See” the Unseen (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Having microwave data with the spatial and temporal resolution of infrared data would provide a large positive impact on many climate and weather applications. We demonstrate that Bayesian deep learning is a promising technique for both creating and improving synthetic microwave data from infrared data. We report 0.7% mean absolute percentage error for 183+/-3 GHz microwave brightness temperature and uncertainty metrics and find that more training data is needed to achieve improved performance at 166 GHz, 37 GHz, and 23 GHz. Analysis of the spatial distribution of uncertainty reveals that additional cloud data will provide the greatest increase in skill, which will potentially allow for generation of many secondary products derived from microwave data in the future.

Authors: Pedro Ortiz (Naval Postgraduate School); Eleanor Casas (Naval Postgraduate School); Marko Orescanin (Naval Postgraduate School); Scott Powell (Naval Postgraduate School)

NeurIPS 2022 Learning evapotranspiration dataset corrections from water cycle closure supervision (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Evapotranspiration (ET) is one of the most uncertain components of the global water cycle. Improving global ET estimates is needed to better our understanding of the global water cycle so as to forecast the consequences of climate change on the future of global water resource distribution. This work presents a methodology to derive monthly corrections of global ET datasets at 0.25 degree resolution. We use ML to generalize sparse catchment-level water cycle closure residual information to global and dense pixel-level residuals. Our model takes a probabilistic view on ET datasets and their correction that we use to regress catchment-level residuals using a sum-aggregated supervision. Using four global ET datasets, we show that our learned model has learned ET corrections that accurately generalize its water cycle-closure results to unseen catchments.

Authors: Tristan E.M Hascoet (Kobe University); Victor Pellet (LERMA); Filipe Aires (LERMA)

NeurIPS 2022 Causal Modeling of Soil Processes for Improved Generalization (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Measuring and monitoring soil organic carbon is critical for agricultural productivity and for addressing critical environmental problems. Soil organic carbon not only enriches nutrition in soil, but also has a gamut of co-benefits such as improving water storage and limiting physical erosion. Despite a litany of work in soil organic carbon estimation, current approaches do not generalize well across soil conditions and management practices. We empirically show that explicit modeling of cause-and-effect relationships among the soil processes improves the out-of-distribution generalizability of prediction models. We provide a comparative analysis of soil organic carbon estimation models where the skeleton is estimated using causal discovery methods. Our framework provide an average improvement of 81% in test mean squared error and 52% in test mean absolute error.

Authors: Somya Sharma (U. Minnesota); Swati Sharma (Microsoft Research); Emre Kiciman (Microsoft Research); Andy Neal (Rothamstead); Ranveer Chandra (Microsoft Research); John Crawford (University of Glasgow); Sara Malvar (Microsoft); Eduardo R Rodrigues (MSR)

NeurIPS 2022 Bayesian State-Space SCM for Deforestation Baseline Estimation for Forest Carbon Credit (Papers Track) Best Paper: Pathway to Impact
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Abstract: In forest carbon credit, the concept of dynamic (or ex-post) baseline has been discussed to overcome the criticism of junk carbon credit, while an ex-ante baseline is still necessary in terms of project finance and risk assessment. We propose a Bayesian state-space SCM, which integrates both ex-ante and ex-post baseline estimation in a time-series causal inference framework. We apply the proposed model to a REDD+ project in Brazil, and show that it might have had a small, positive effect but had been over-credited and that the 90% predictive interval of the ex-ante baseline included the ex-post baseline, implying our ex-ante estimation can work effectively.

Authors: Keisuke Takahata (sustainacraft, Inc.); Hiroshi Suetsugu (sustainacraft, Inc.); Keiichi Fukaya (National Institute for Environmental Studies); Shinichiro Shirota (Hitotsubashi University)

NeurIPS 2022 Evaluating Digital Tools for Sustainable Agriculture using Causal Inference (Papers Track)
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Abstract: In contrast to the rapid digitalization of several industries, agriculture suffers from low adoption of climate-smart farming tools. Even though AI-driven digital agriculture can offer high-performing predictive functionalities, they lack tangible quantitative evidence on their benefits to the farmers. Field experiments can derive such evidence, but are often costly and time consuming. To this end, we propose an observational causal inference framework for the empirical evaluation of the impact of digital tools on target farm performance indicators. This way, we can increase farmers' trust via enhancing the transparency of the digital agriculture market, and in turn accelerate the adoption of technologies that aim to increase productivity and secure a sustainable and resilient agriculture against a changing climate. As a case study, we perform an empirical evaluation of a recommendation system for optimal cotton sowing, which was used by a farmers' cooperative during the growing season of 2021. We leverage agricultural knowledge to develop the causal graph of the farm system, we use the back-door criterion to identify the impact of recommendations on the yield and subsequently we estimate it using several methods on observational data. The results showed that a field sown according to our recommendations enjoyed a significant increase in yield 12% to 17%.

Authors: Ilias Tsoumas (National Observatory of Athens); Georgios Giannarakis (National Observatory of Athens); Vasileios Sitokonstantinou (National Observatory of Athens); Alkiviadis Marios Koukos (National Observatory of Athens); Dimitra A Loka (Hellenic Agricultural Organization ELGO DIMITRA); Nikolaos S Bartsotas (National Observatory of Athens); Charalampos Kontoes (National Observatory of Athens); Ioannis N Athanasiadis (Wageningen University and Research)

NeurIPS 2022 Using uncertainty-aware machine learning models to study aerosol-cloud interactions (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Aerosol-cloud interactions (ACI) include various effects that result from aerosols entering a cloud, and affecting cloud properties. In general, an increase in aerosol concentration results in smaller droplet sizes which leads to larger, brighter, longer-lasting clouds that reflect more sunlight and cool the Earth. The strength of the effect is however heterogeneous, meaning it depends on the surrounding environment, making ACI one of the most uncertain effects in our current climate models. In our work, we use causal machine learning to estimate ACI from satellite observations by reframing the problem as a treatment (aerosol) and outcome (change in droplet radius). We predict the causal effect of aerosol on clouds with uncertainty bounds depending on the unknown factors that may be influencing the impact of aerosol. Of the three climate models evaluated, we find that only one plausibly recreates the trend, lending more credence to its estimate cooling due to ACI.

Authors: Maëlys Solal (University of Oxford); Andrew Jesson (University of Oxford); Yarin Gal (University of Oxford); Alyson Douglas (University of Oxford)

NeurIPS 2022 Urban Heat Island Detection and Causal Inference Using Convolutional Neural Networks (Proposals Track)
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Abstract: Compared to rural areas, urban areas experience higher temperatures for longer periods of time because of the urban heat island (UHI) effect. This increased heat stress leads to greater mortality, increased energy demand, regional changes to precipitation patterns, and increased air pollution. Urban developers can minimize the UHI effect by incorporating features that promote air flow and heat dispersion (e.g., increasing green space). However, understanding which urban features to implement is complex, as local meteorology strongly dictates how the environment responds to changes in urban form. In this proposal we describe a methodology for estimating the causal relationship between changes in urban form and changes in the UHI effect. Changes in urban form and temperature changes are measured using convolutional neural networks, and a causal inference matching approach is proposed to estimate causal relationships. The success of this methodology will enable urban developers to implement city-specific interventions to mitigate the warming planet's impact on cities.

Authors: Zachary D Calhoun (Duke University); Ziyang Jiang (Duke University); Mike Bergin (Duke University); David Carlson (Duke University)

NeurIPS 2022 Personalizing Sustainable Agriculture with Causal Machine Learning (Proposals Track) Best Paper: Proposals
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Abstract: To fight climate change and accommodate the increasing population, global crop production has to be strengthened. To achieve the "sustainable intensification" of agriculture, transforming it from carbon emitter to carbon sink is a priority, and understanding the environmental impact of agricultural management practices is a fundamental prerequisite to that. At the same time, the global agricultural landscape is deeply heterogeneous, with differences in climate, soil, and land use inducing variations in how agricultural systems respond to farmer actions. The "personalization" of sustainable agriculture with the provision of locally adapted management advice is thus a necessary condition for the efficient uplift of green metrics, and an integral development in imminent policies. Here, we formulate personalized sustainable agriculture as a Conditional Average Treatment Effect estimation task and use Causal Machine Learning for tackling it. Leveraging climate data, land use information and employing Double Machine Learning, we estimate the heterogeneous effect of sustainable practices on the field-level Soil Organic Carbon content in Lithuania. We thus provide a data-driven perspective for targeting sustainable practices and effectively expanding the global carbon sink.

Authors: Georgios Giannarakis (National Observatory of Athens); Vasileios Sitokonstantinou (National Observatory of Athens); Roxanne Suzette Lorilla (National Observatory of Athens); Charalampos Kontoes (National Observatory of Athens)

NeurIPS 2021 Predicting Discharge in Catchment Outlet Using Deep Learning: Case Study of the Ansongo-Niamey Basin (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Hydrological models are one of the key challenges in hydrology. Their goal is to understand, predict and manage water resources. Most of the hydrological models so far were either physical or conceptual models. But in the past two decades, fully data-driven (empirical) models started to emerge with the breakthroughs of novel deep learning methods in runoff prediction. These breakthroughs were mostly favored by the large volume, variety and velocity of water-related data. Long Short-Term Memory and Gated Recurrent Unit neural networks, particularly achieved the outstanding milestone of outperforming classic hydrological models in less than a decade. Moreover, they have the potential to change the way hydrological modeling is performed. In this study, precipitation, minimal and maximum temperature at the Ansongo-Niamey basin combined with the discharge at Ansongo and Kandadji were used to predict the discharge at Niamey using artificial neural networks. After data preprocessing and hyperparameter optimization, the deep learning models performed well with the LSTM and GRU respectively scoring a Nash-Sutcliffe Efficiency of 0.933 and 0.935. This performance matches those of well-known physically-based models used to simulate Niamey’s discharge and therefore demonstrates the efficiency of deep learning methods in a West African context, especially in Niamey which has been facing severe floods due to climate change.

Authors: Peniel J. Y. Adounkpe (WASCAL); Eric Alamou (Université d'Abomey-Calavi); Belko Diallo (WASCAL); Abdou Ali (AGRHYMET Regional Centre)

NeurIPS 2021 Using Non-Linear Causal Models to Study Aerosol-Cloud Interactions in the Southeast Pacific (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Aerosol-cloud interactions include a myriad of effects that all begin when aerosol enters a cloud and acts as cloud condensation nuclei (CCN). An increase in CCN results in a decrease in the mean cloud droplet size (r$_{e}$). The smaller droplet size leads to brighter, more expansive, and longer lasting clouds that reflect more incoming sunlight, thus cooling the earth. Globally, aerosol-cloud interactions cool the Earth, however the strength of the effect is heterogeneous over different meteorological regimes. Understanding how aerosol-cloud interactions evolve as a function of the local environment can help us better understand sources of error in our Earth system models, which currently fail to reproduce the observed relationships. In this work we use recent non-linear, causal machine learning methods to study the heterogeneous effects of aerosols on cloud droplet radius.

Authors: Andrew Jesson (University of Oxford); Peter Manshausen (University of Oxford); Alyson Douglas (University of Oxford); Duncan Watson-Parris (University of Oxford); Yarin Gal (University of Oxford); Philip Stier (University of Oxford)

NeurIPS 2021 Mapping Post-Climate Change Biogeographical Regions with Deep Latent Variable Models (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Forecasting future changes to biodiversity due to shifts in climate is challenging due to nonlinear interactions between species as recorded in their presence/absence data. This work proposes using variational autoencoders with environmental covariates to identify low-dimensional structure in species’ joint co-occurrence patterns and leveraging this simplified representation to provide multivariate predictions of their habitat extent under future climate scenarios. We pursue a latent space clustering approach to map biogeographical regions of frequently co-occurring species and apply this methodology to a dataset from northern Belgium, generating predictive maps illustrating how these regions may expand or contract with changing temperature under a future climate scenario.

Authors: Christopher Krapu (Oak Ridge National Lab - Oak Ridge, TN)

NeurIPS 2021 Amortized inference of Gaussian process hyperparameters for improved concrete strength trajectory prediction (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Designing and utilizing alternative concrete formulations which supplant the use of ordinary portland cement with alternative binders have been identified as central goals in reducing the greenhouse gas impact of the concrete industry. Given the variability in availability and quality of alternatives, these goals call for an optimal design of experiment approach to designing formulations, which can be adapted to local needs. The realization of this goal hinges on an ability to predict key properties. Here, we present and benchmark a Gaussian process (GP) model for predicting the trajectory of concrete strength, an essential performance measure. GPs are a desirable model class for the application because of their ability to estimate uncertainty and update predictions given additional data. In this work, rather than manually tuning hyperparameters for different concrete mix models, we propose a new method based on amortized inference leveraging mixture attributes, leading to models which are better fit for use in Bayesian optimization of concrete formulation. We demonstrate the success of the approach using a large, industrial concrete dataset.

Authors: Kristen Severson (Microsoft Research); Olivia Pfeiffer (MIT); Jie Chen (IBM Research); Kai Gong (MIT); Jeremy Gregory (Massachusetts Institute of Technology); Richard Goodwin (IBM Research); Elsa Olivetti (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

NeurIPS 2021 Hybrid physics-based and data-driven modeling with calibrated uncertainty for lithium-ion battery degradation diagnosis and prognosis (Proposals Track)
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Abstract: Advancing lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) in both design and usage is key to promoting electrification in the coming decades to mitigate human-caused climate change. Inadequate understanding of LIB degradation is an important bottleneck that limits battery durability and safety. Here, we propose hybrid physics-based and data-driven modeling for online diagnosis and prognosis of battery degradation. Compared to existing battery modeling efforts, we aim to build a model with physics as its backbone and statistical learning techniques as enhancements. Such a hybrid model has better generalizability and interpretability together with a well-calibrated uncertainty associated with its prediction, rendering it more valuable and relevant to safety-critical applications under realistic usage scenarios.

Authors: Jing Lin (Institute for Infocomm Research); Yu Zhang (I2R); Edwin Khoo (Institute for Infocomm Research)

NeurIPS 2021 Machine Learning Speeding Up the Development of Portfolio of New Crop Varieties to Adapt to and Mitigate Climate Change (Proposals Track)
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Abstract: Climate change poses serious challenges to achieving food security in a time of a need to produce more food to keep up with the world’s increasing demand for food. There is an urgent need to speed up the development of new high yielding varieties with traits of adaptation and mitigation to climate change. Mathematical approaches, including ML approaches, have been used to search for such traits, leading to unprecedented results as some of the traits, including heat traits that have been long sought-for, have been found within a short period of time.

Authors: Abdallah Bari (OperAI Canada - Operational AI); Hassan Ouabbou (INRA); Abderrazek Jilal (INRA); Frederick Stoddard (University of Helsinki); Mikko Sillanpää (University of Oulu); Hamid Khazaei (World Vegetable Center)

ICML 2021 ANP-BBO: Attentive Neural Processes and Batch Bayesian Optimization for Scalable Calibration of Physics-Informed Digital Twins (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Physics-informed dynamical system models form critical components of digital twins of the built environment. These digital twins enable the design of energy-efficient infrastructure, but must be properly calibrated to accurately reflect system behavior for downstream prediction and analysis. Dynamical system models of modern buildings are typically described by a large number of parameters and incur significant computational expenditure during simulations. To handle large-scale calibration of digital twins without exorbitant simulations, we propose ANP-BBO: a scalable and parallelizable batch-wise Bayesian optimization (BBO) methodology that leverages attentive neural processes (ANPs).

Authors: Ankush Chakrabarty (Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs); Gordon Wichern (Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories (MERL)); Christopher Laughman (Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories (MERL))

ICML 2021 Multivariate climate downscaling with latent neural processes (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Statistical downscaling is a vital tool in generating high resolution projections for climate impact studies. This study applies convolutional latent neural processes to multivariate downscaling of maximum temperature and precipitation. In contrast to existing downscaling methods, this model is shown to produce spatially coherent predictions at arbitrary locations specified at test time, regardless of whether training data are available at these points.

Authors: Anna Vaughan (Univeristy of Cambridge); Nic Lane (University of Cambridge); Michael Herzog (University of Cambridge)

ICML 2021 Learning Why: Data-Driven Causal Evaluations of Climate Models (Proposals Track)
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Abstract: We plan to use nascent data-driven causal discovery methods to find and compare causal relationships in observed data and climate model output. We will look at ten different features in the Arctic climate collected from public databases and from the Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM). In identifying and comparing the resulting causal networks, we hope to find important differences between observed causal relationships and those in climate models. With these, climate modeling experts will be able to improve the coupling and parameterization of E3SM and other climate models.

Authors: Jeffrey J Nichol (University of New Mexico); Matthew Peterson (Sandia National Laboratories); George M Fricke (UNM); Kara Peterson (Sandia National Laboratories)

NeurIPS 2020 Short-Term Solar Irradiance Forecasting Using Calibrated Probabilistic Models (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Advancing probabilistic solar forecasting methods is essential to supporting the integration of solar energy into the electricity grid. In this work, we develop a variety of state-of-the-art probabilistic models for forecasting solar irradiance. We investigate the use of post-hoc calibration techniques for ensuring well-calibrated probabilistic predictions. We train and evaluate the models using public data from seven stations in the SURFRAD network, and demonstrate that the best model, NGBoost, achieves higher performance at an intra-hourly resolution than the best benchmark solar irradiance forecasting model across all stations. Further, we show that NGBoost with CRUDE post-hoc calibration achieves comparable performance to a numerical weather prediction model on hourly-resolution forecasting.

Authors: Eric Zelikman (Stanford University); Sharon Zhou (Stanford University); Jeremy A Irvin (Stanford); Cooper Raterink (Stanford University); Hao Sheng (Stanford University); Avati Anand (Stanford University); Jack Kelly (Open Climate Fix); Ram Rajagopal (Stanford University); Andrew Ng (Stanford University); David J Gagne (National Center for Atmospheric Research)

NeurIPS 2020 Short-term prediction of photovoltaic power generation using Gaussian process regression (Papers Track)
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Abstract: Photovoltaic (PV) power is affected by weather conditions, making the power generated from the PV systems uncertain. Solving this problem would help improve the reliability and cost effectiveness of the grid, and could help reduce reliance on fossil fuel plants. The present paper focuses on evaluating predictions of the energy generated by PV systems in the United Kingdom using Gaussian process regression (GPR). Gaussian process regression is a Bayesian non-parametric model that can provide predictions along with the uncertainty in the predicted value, which can be very useful in applications with a high degree of uncertainty. The model is evaluated for short-term forecasts of 48 hours against three main factors – training period, sky area coverage and kernel model selection – and for very short-term forecasts of four hours against sky area. We also compare very short-term forecasts in terms of cloud coverage within the prediction period and only initial cloud coverage as a predictor.

Authors: Yahya Hasan Al Lawati (Queen Mary University of London); Jack Kelly (Open Climate Fix); Dan Stowell (Queen Mary University of London)

NeurIPS 2020 The Human Effect Requires Affect: Addressing Social-Psychological Factors of Climate Change with Machine Learning (Proposals Track)
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Abstract: Machine learning has the potential to aid in mitigating the human effects of climate change. Previous applications of machine learning to tackle the human effects in climate change include approaches like informing individuals of their carbon footprint and strategies to reduce it. For these methods to be the most effective they must consider relevant social-psychological factors for each individual. Of social-psychological factors at play in climate change, affect has been previously identified as a key element in perceptions and willingness to engage in mitigative behaviours. In this work, we propose an investigation into how affect could be incorporated to enhance machine learning based interventions for climate change. We propose using affective agent-based modelling for climate change as well as the use of a simulated climate change social dilemma to explore the potential benefits of affective machine learning interventions. Behavioural and informational interventions can be a powerful tool in helping humans adopt mitigative behaviours. We expect that utilizing affective ML can make interventions an even more powerful tool and help mitigative behaviours become widely adopted.

Authors: Kyle Tilbury (University of Waterloo); Jesse Hoey (University of Waterloo)

NeurIPS 2020 Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Modeling for Understanding the Oceans and Climate Change (Proposals Track)
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Abstract: These changes will have a drastic impact on almost all forms of life in the ocean with further consequences on food security, ecosystem services in coastal and inland communities. Despite these impacts, scientific data and infrastructures are still lacking to understand and quantify the consequences of these perturbations on the marine ecosystem. Understanding this phenomenon is not only an urgent but also a scientifically demanding task. Consequently, it is a problem that must be addressed with a scientific cohort approach, where multi-disciplinary teams collaborate to bring the best of different scientific areas. In this proposal paper, we describe our newly launched four-years project focused on developing new artificial intelligence, machine learning, and mathematical modeling tools to contribute to the understanding of the structure, functioning, and underlying mechanisms and dynamics of the global ocean symbiome and its relation with climate change. These actions should enable the understanding of our oceans and predict and mitigate the consequences of climate change.

Authors: Nayat Sánchez Pi (Inria); Luis Martí (Inria); André Abreu (Fountation Tara Océans); Olivier Bernard (Inria); Colomban de Vargas (CNRS); Damien Eveillard (Univ. Nantes); Alejandro Maass (CMM, U. Chile); Pablo Marquet (PUC); Jacques Sainte-Marie (Inria); Julien Salomin (Inria); Marc Schoenauer (INRIA); Michele Sebag (LRI, CNRS, France)