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Workshop: NeurIPS 2023 Workshop on Tackling Climate Change with Machine Learning: Blending New and Existing Knowledge Systems

RMM-VAE: a machine learning method for identifying probabilistic weather regimes targeted to a local-scale impact variable

Fiona Spuler · Marlene Kretschmer · Ted Shepherd · Magdalena Balmaseda · Yevgeniya Kovalchuck


Identifying large-scale atmospheric patterns that modulate extremes in local-scale variables such as precipitation has the potential to improve long-term climate projections as well as extended-range forecasting skill. This paper proposes a novel probabilistic machine learning method, RMM-VAE, based on a variational autoencoder architecture for identifying weather regimes targeted to a local-scale impact variable. The new method is compared to three existing methods in the task of identifying robust weather regimes that are predictive of precipitation over Morocco while capturing the full phase space of atmospheric dynamics over the Mediterranean. RMM-VAE performs well across these different objectives, outperforming linear methods in reconstructing the full phase space and predicting the target variable, highlighting the potential benefit of applying the method to various climate applications such as downscaling and extended-range forecasting.

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