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

An iterative data-driven emulator of an ocean general circulation model

Rachel Furner1,2, Peter Haynes1, Dan(i) Jones2, Dave Munday2, Brooks Paige3, and Emily Shuckburgh1
Rachel Furner et al.
  • 1University of Cambridge
  • 2British Antarctic Survey, NERC, UKRI
  • 3University College London

Data-driven models are becoming increasingly competent at tasks fundamental to weather and climate prediction. Relative to machine learning (ML) based atmospheric models, which have shown promise in short-term forecasting, ML-based ocean forecasting remains somewhat unexplored. In this work, we present a data-driven emulator of an ocean GCM and show that performance over a single predictive step is skilful across all variables under consideration. Iterating such data-driven models poses additional challenges, with many models suffering from over-smoothing of fields or instabilities in the predictions. We compare a variety of methods for iterating our data-driven emulator and assess them by looking at how well they agree with the underlying GCM in the very short term and how realistic the fields remain for longer-term forecasts. Due to the chaotic nature of the system being forecast, we would not expect any model to agree with the GCM accurately over long time periods, but instead we expect fields to continue to exhibit physically realistic behaviour at ever increasing lead times. Specifically, we expect well-represented fields to remain stable whilst also maintaining the presence and sharpness of features seen in both reality and in GCM predictions, with reduced emphasis on accurately representing the location and timing of these features. This nuanced and temporally changing definition of what constitutes a ‘good’ forecast at increasing lead times generates questions over both (1) how one defines suitable metrics for assessing data-driven models, and perhaps more importantly, (2) identifying the most promising loss functions to use to optimise these models.

How to cite: Furner, R., Haynes, P., Jones, D., Munday, D., Paige, B., and Shuckburgh, E.: An iterative data-driven emulator of an ocean general circulation model, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-3340,, 2023.