EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Learning causal drivers of PyroCb

Emiliano Díaz, Gherardo Varando, Fernando Iglesias-Suarez, Gustau Camps-Valls, Kenza Tazi, Kara Lamb, and Duncan Watson-Parris
Emiliano Díaz et al.
  • Image & Signal Processing Group, Universitat de Valencia, Valencia, Spain (

Discovering causal relationships from purely observational data is often not possible. In this case, combining observational and experimental data can allow for the identifiability of the underlying causal structure. In Earth Systems sciences, carrying out interventional experiments is often impossible for ethical and practical reasons. However, “natural interventions”, are often present in the data, and these represent regime changes caused by changes to exogenous drivers. In [3,4], the Invariant Causal Prediction (ICP) methodology was presented to identify the causes of a target variable of interest from a set of candidate causes. This methodology takes advantage of natural interventions, resulting in different cause variables distributions across different environments.  In [2] this methodology is implemented in a geoscience problem, namely identifying the causes of Pyrocumulunimbus (pyroCb), and storm clouds resulting from extreme wildfires. Although a set of plausible causes is produced, certain heuristic adaptations to the original ICP methodology were implemented to overcome some of the practical. limitations of ICP: a large number of hypothesis tests required and a failure to identify causes when these have a high degree of interdependence. In this work, we try to circumvent these difficulties by taking a different approach. We use a learning paradigm similar to that presented in [3] to learn causal representations invariant across different environments. Since we often don’t know exactly how to define the different environments best, we also propose to learn functions that describe their spatiotemporal extent. We apply the resulting algorithm to the pyroCb database in [1] and other Earth System sciences datasets to verify the plausibility of the causal representations found and the environments that describe the so-called natural interventions.. 


[1] Tazi et al. 2022.

[2] Díaz et al. 2022 .

[3] Arjovsky et al. 2019.

[4] Peters et al.2016.

[5] Heinze-Deml et al. 2018.

How to cite: Díaz, E., Varando, G., Iglesias-Suarez, F., Camps-Valls, G., Tazi, K., Lamb, K., and Watson-Parris, D.: Learning causal drivers of PyroCb, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-16846,, 2023.