Machine-Learned Cloud Classes From Satellite Data for Process-Oriented Climate Model Evaluation
Clouds play a key role in regulating climate change but are difficult to simulate within Earth system models (ESMs). Improving the representation of clouds is one of the key tasks towards more robust climate change projections. This study introduces a new machine-learning based framework relying on satellite observations to improve understanding of the representation of clouds and their relevant processes in climate models. The proposed method is capable of assigning distributions of established cloud types to coarse data. It facilitates a more objective evaluation of clouds in ESMs and improves the consistency of cloud process analysis. The method is built on satellite data from the MODIS instrument labelled by deep neural networks with cloud types defined by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), using cloud type labels from CloudSat as ground truth. The method is applicable to datasets with information about physical cloud variables comparable to MODIS satellite data and at sufficiently high temporal resolution. We apply the method to alternative satellite data from the Cloud\_cci project (ESA Climate Change Initiative), coarse-grained to typical resolutions of climate models. The resulting cloud type distributions are physically consistent and the horizontal resolutions typical of ESMs are sufficient to apply our method. We recommend outputting crucial variables required by our method for future ESM data evaluation. This will enable the use of labelled satellite data for a more systematic evaluation of clouds in climate models.
IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
- Pub Date:
- Physics - Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics
- Main Paper 16 pages, 11 figures. Supporting material 7 Pages, 8 figures. This work has been submitted to the IEEE for possible publication. Copyright may be transferred without notice, after which this version may no longer be accessible