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Gentine, P.; Pritchard, M.; Rasp, S.; Reinaudi, G.; Yacalis, G. (2018): Could Machine Learning Break the Convection Parameterization Deadlock? In: Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 45, No. 11: pp. 5742-5751
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Representing unresolved moist convection in coarse-scale climate models remains one of the main bottlenecks of current climate simulations. Many of the biases present with parameterized convection are strongly reduced when convection is explicitly resolved (i.e., in cloud resolving models at high spatial resolution approximately a kilometer or so). We here present a novel approach to convective parameterization based on machine learning, using an aquaplanet with prescribed sea surface temperatures as a proof of concept. A deep neural network is trained with a superparameterized version of a climate model in which convection is resolved by thousands of embedded 2-D cloud resolving models. The machine learning representation of convection, which we call the Cloud Brain (CBRAIN), can skillfully predict many of the convective heating, moistening, and radiative features of superparameterization that are most important to climate simulation, although an unintended side effect is to reduce some of the superparameterization's inherent variance. Since as few as three months' high-frequency global training data prove sufficient to provide this skill, the approach presented here opens up a new possibility for a future class of convection parameterizations in climate models that are built top-down, that is, by learning salient features of convection from unusually explicit simulations. Plain Language Summary The representation of cloud radiative effects and the atmospheric heating and moistening due to moist convection remains a major challenge in current generation climate models, leading to a large spread in climate prediction. Here we show that neural networks trained on a high-resolution model in which moist convection is resolved can be an appealing technique to tackle and better represent moist convection in coarse resolution climate models.