Modern climate projections lack adequate spatial and temporal resolution due to computational constraints. A consequence is inaccurate and imprecise prediction of critical processes such as storms. Hybrid methods that combine physics with machine learning (ML) have introduced a new generation of higher fidelity climate simulators that can sidestep Moore's Law by outsourcing compute-hungry, short, high-resolution simulations to ML emulators. However, this hybrid ML-physics simulation approach requires domain-specific treatment and has been inaccessible to ML experts because of lack of training data and relevant, easy-to-use workflows. We present ClimSim, the largest-ever dataset designed for hybrid ML-physics research. It comprises multi-scale climate simulations, developed by a consortium of climate scientists and ML researchers. It consists of 5.7 billion pairs of multivariate input and output vectors that isolate the influence of locally-nested, high-resolution, high-fidelity physics on a host climate simulator's macro-scale physical state. The dataset is global in coverage, spans multiple years at high sampling frequency, and is designed such that resulting emulators are compatible with downstream coupling into operational climate simulators. We implement a range of deterministic and stochastic regression baselines to highlight the ML challenges and their scoring. The data (https://huggingface.co/datasets/LEAP/ClimSim_high-res) and code (https://leap-stc.github.io/ClimSim) are released openly to support the development of hybrid ML-physics and high-fidelity climate simulations for the benefit of science and society.
Methods of eXplainable Artificial Intelligence (XAI) are used in geoscientific applications to gain insights into the decision-making strategy of Neural Networks (NNs) highlighting which features in the input contribute the most to a NN prediction. Here, we discuss our lesson learned that the task of attributing a prediction to the input does not have a single solution. Instead, the attribution results and their interpretation depend greatly on the considered baseline (sometimes referred to as reference point) that the XAI method utilizes; a fact that has been overlooked so far in the literature. This baseline can be chosen by the user or it is set by construction in the method s algorithm, often without the user being aware of that choice. We highlight that different baselines can lead to different insights for different science questions and, thus, should be chosen accordingly. To illustrate the impact of the baseline, we use a large ensemble of historical and future climate simulations forced with the SSP3-7.0 scenario and train a fully connected NN to predict the ensemble- and global-mean temperature (i.e., the forced global warming signal) given an annual temperature map from an individual ensemble member. We then use various XAI methods and different baselines to attribute the network predictions to the input. We show that attributions differ substantially when considering different baselines, as they correspond to answering different science questions. We conclude by discussing some important implications and considerations about the use of baselines in XAI research.
Convolutional neural networks (CNNs) have recently attracted great attention in geoscience due to their ability to capture non-linear system behavior and extract predictive spatiotemporal patterns. Given their black-box nature however, and the importance of prediction explainability, methods of explainable artificial intelligence (XAI) are gaining popularity as a means to explain the CNN decision-making strategy. Here, we establish an intercomparison of some of the most popular XAI methods and investigate their fidelity in explaining CNN decisions for geoscientific applications. Our goal is to raise awareness of the theoretical limitations of these methods and gain insight into the relative strengths and weaknesses to help guide best practices. The considered XAI methods are first applied to an idealized attribution benchmark, where the ground truth of explanation of the network is known a priori, to help objectively assess their performance. Secondly, we apply XAI to a climate-related prediction setting, namely to explain a CNN that is trained to predict the number of atmospheric rivers in daily snapshots of climate simulations. Our results highlight several important issues of XAI methods (e.g., gradient shattering, inability to distinguish the sign of attribution, ignorance to zero input) that have previously been overlooked in our field and, if not considered cautiously, may lead to a distorted picture of the CNN decision-making strategy. We envision that our analysis will motivate further investigation into XAI fidelity and will help towards a cautious implementation of XAI in geoscience, which can lead to further exploitation of CNNs and deep learning for prediction problems.
The earth system is exceedingly complex and often chaotic in nature, making prediction incredibly challenging: we cannot expect to make perfect predictions all of the time. Instead, we look for specific states of the system that lead to more predictable behavior than others, often termed "forecasts of opportunity." When these opportunities are not present, scientists need prediction systems that are capable of saying "I don't know." We introduce a novel loss function, termed the "NotWrong loss", that allows neural networks to identify forecasts of opportunity for classification problems. The NotWrong loss introduces an abstention class that allows the network to identify the more confident samples and abstain (say "I don't know") on the less confident samples. The abstention loss is designed to abstain on a user-defined fraction of the samples via a PID controller. Unlike many machine learning methods used to reject samples post-training, the NotWrong loss is applied during training to preferentially learn from the more confident samples. We show that the NotWrong loss outperforms other existing loss functions for multiple climate use cases. The implementation of the proposed loss function is straightforward in most network architectures designed for classification as it only requires the addition of an abstention class to the output layer and modification of the loss function.
* submitted to the Journal of Advances in Earth System Modeling. arXiv
admin note: substantial text overlap with arXiv:2104.08236
The earth system is exceedingly complex and often chaotic in nature, making prediction incredibly challenging: we cannot expect to make perfect predictions all of the time. Instead, we look for specific states of the system that lead to more predictable behavior than others, often termed "forecasts of opportunity". When these opportunities are not present, scientists need prediction systems that are capable of saying "I don't know." We introduce a novel loss function, termed "abstention loss", that allows neural networks to identify forecasts of opportunity for regression problems. The abstention loss works by incorporating uncertainty in the network's prediction to identify the more confident samples and abstain (say "I don't know") on the less confident samples. The abstention loss is designed to determine the optimal abstention fraction, or abstain on a user-defined fraction via a PID controller. Unlike many methods for attaching uncertainty to neural network predictions post-training, the abstention loss is applied during training to preferentially learn from the more confident samples. The abstention loss is built upon a standard computer science method. While the standard approach is itself a simple yet powerful tool for incorporating uncertainty in regression problems, we demonstrate that the abstention loss outperforms this more standard method for the synthetic climate use cases explored here. The implementation of proposed loss function is straightforward in most network architectures designed for regression, as it only requires modification of the output layer and loss function.
* submitted to the Journal of Advances of Earth System Modeling
Despite the increasingly successful application of neural networks to many problems in the geosciences, their complex and nonlinear structure makes the interpretation of their predictions difficult, which limits model trust and does not allow scientists to gain physical insights about the problem at hand. Many different methods have been introduced in the emerging field of eXplainable Artificial Intelligence (XAI), which aim at attributing the network's prediction to specific features in the input domain. XAI methods are usually assessed by using benchmark datasets (like MNIST or ImageNet for image classification), or through deletion/insertion techniques. In either case, however, an objective, theoretically-derived ground truth for the attribution is lacking, making the assessment of XAI in many cases subjective. Also, benchmark datasets for problems in geosciences are rare. Here, we provide a framework, based on the use of additively separable functions, to generate attribution benchmark datasets for regression problems for which the ground truth of the attribution is known a priori. We generate a long benchmark dataset and train a fully-connected network to learn the underlying function that was used for simulation. We then compare estimated attribution heatmaps from different XAI methods to the ground truth in order to identify examples where specific XAI methods perform well or poorly. We believe that attribution benchmarks as the ones introduced herein are of great importance for further application of neural networks in the geosciences, and for accurate implementation of XAI methods, which will increase model trust and assist in discovering new science.
* This work has been submitted to the IEEE Transactions on Neural
Networks and Learning Systems for possible publication in the special issue
entitled "Deep Learning for Earth and Planetary Geosciences." Copyright may
be transferred without notice, after which this version may no longer be
We outline a perspective of an entirely new research branch in Earth and climate sciences, where deep neural networks and Earth system models are dismantled as individual methodological approaches and reassembled as learning, self-validating, and interpretable Earth system model-network hybrids. Following this path, we coin the term "Neural Earth System Modelling" (NESYM) and highlight the necessity of a transdisciplinary discussion platform, bringing together Earth and climate scientists, big data analysts, and AI experts. We examine the concurrent potential and pitfalls of Neural Earth System Modelling and discuss the open question whether artificial intelligence will not only infuse Earth system modelling, but ultimately render them obsolete.
* Perspective paper submitted to Nature Machine Intelligence, 23 pages,
Neural networks have become increasingly prevalent within the geosciences for applications ranging from numerical model parameterizations to the prediction of extreme weather. A common limitation of neural networks has been the lack of methods to interpret what the networks learn and how they make decisions. As such, neural networks have typically been used within the geosciences to accurately identify a desired output given a set of inputs, with the interpretation of what the network learns being used - if used at all - as a secondary metric to ensure the network is making the right decision for the right reason. Network interpretation techniques have become more advanced in recent years, however, and we therefore propose that the ultimate objective of using a neural network can also be the interpretation of what the network has learned rather than the output itself. We show that the interpretation of a neural network can enable the discovery of scientifically meaningful connections within geoscientific data. By training neural networks to use one or more components of the earth system to identify another, interpretation methods can be used to gain scientific insights into how and why the two components are related. In particular, we use two methods for neural network interpretation. These methods project the decision pathways of a network back onto the original input dimensions, and are called "optimal input" and layerwise relevance propagation (LRP). We then show how these interpretation techniques can be used to reliably infer scientifically meaningful information from neural networks by applying them to common climate patterns. These results suggest that combining interpretable neural networks with novel scientific hypotheses will open the door to many new avenues in neural network-related geoscience research.
* The first version of this manuscript is currently under review at the
Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems (JAMES)