Reconstructing coupled time series in climate systems using three kinds of machine-learning methods

Huang, Yu; Yang, Lichao; Fu, Zuntao

Despite the great success of machine learning, its application in climate dynamics has not been well developed. One concern might be how well the trained neural networks could learn a dynamical system and what will be the potential application of this kind of learning. In this paper, three machine-learning methods are used: reservoir computer (RC), backpropagation-based (BP) artificial neural network, and long short-term memory (LSTM) neural network. It shows that the coupling relations or dynamics among variables in linear or nonlinear systems can be inferred by RC and LSTM, which can be further applied to reconstruct one time series from the other. Specifically, we analyzed the climatic toy models to address two questions: (i) what factors significantly influence machine-learning reconstruction and (ii) how do we select suitable explanatory variables for machine-learning reconstruction. The results reveal that both linear and nonlinear coupling relations between variables do influence the reconstruction quality of machine learning. If there is a strong linear coupling between two variables, then the reconstruction can be bidirectional, and both of these two variables can be an explanatory variable for reconstructing the other. When the linear coupling among variables is absent but with the significant nonlinear coupling, the machine-learning reconstruction between two variables is direction dependent, and it may be only unidirectional. Then the convergent cross mapping (CCM) causality index is proposed to determine which variable can be taken as the reconstructed one and which as the explanatory variable. In a real-world example, the Pearson correlation between the average tropical surface air temperature (TSAT) and the average Northern Hemisphere SAT (NHSAT) is weak (0.08), but the CCM index of NHSAT cross mapped with TSAT is large (0.70). And this indicates that TSAT can be well reconstructed from NHSAT through machine learning.

All results shown in this study could provide insights into machine-learning approaches for paleoclimate reconstruction, parameterization scheme, and prediction in related climate research.


  • labeli

    d1e111The coupling dynamics learned by machine learning can be used to reconstruct time series.

  • labelii

    d1e117Reconstruction quality is direction dependent and variable dependent for nonlinear systems.

  • labeliii

    d1e123The CCM index is a potential indicator to choose reconstructed and explanatory variables.

  • labeliv

    d1e129The tropical average SAT can be well reconstructed from the average Northern Hemisphere SAT.



Huang, Yu / Yang, Lichao / Fu, Zuntao: Reconstructing coupled time series in climate systems using three kinds of machine-learning methods. 2020. Copernicus Publications.


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