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

Explainable AI for oceanic carbon cycle analysis of CMIP6

Paul Heubel1, Lydia Keppler2, and Tatiana Iliyna3
Paul Heubel et al.
  • 1Institute of Oceanography CEN, University Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany (
  • 2Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, United States of America (
  • 3Max-Planck-Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany (

The Southern Ocean acts as one of Earth's major carbon sinks, taking up anthropogenic carbon from the atmosphere. Earth System Models (ESMs) are used to project its future evolution. However, the ESMs in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project version 6 (CMIP6) disagree on the biogeochemical representation of the Southern Ocean carbon cycle, both with respect to the phasing and the magnitude of the seasonal cycle of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), and they compare poorly with observations.

We develop a framework to investigate model biases in 10 CMIP6 ESMs historical runs incorporating explainable artificial intelligence (xAI) methodologies. Using both a linear Random Forest feature relevance approach to a nonlinear self organizing map - feed forward neural network (SOM-FFN) framework, we relate 5 drivers of the seasonal cycle of DIC in the Southern Ocean in the different CMIP6 models. We investigate temperature, salinity, silicate, nitrate and dissolved oxygen as potential drivers. This analysis allows us to determine dominant statistical drivers of the seasonal cycle of DIC in the different models, and how they compare to the observations. Our findings inform future model development to better constrain the seasonal cycle of DIC.

How to cite: Heubel, P., Keppler, L., and Iliyna, T.: Explainable AI for oceanic carbon cycle analysis of CMIP6, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-3875,, 2023.

Supplementary materials

Supplementary material file