2B.7 Downscaling Numerical Weather Models with GANs

Monday, 13 January 2020: 3:30 PM
156A (Boston Convention and Exhibition Center)
Alok Singh, Terrafuse, Berkeley, CA; and B. White, A. Albert, and K. Kashinath
Manuscript (8.0 MB)

Numerical simulation of weather is resolution-constrained due to the high computational cost of integrating the coupled PDEs that govern atmospheric motion. For example, the most highly-resolved numerical weather prediction models are limited to approximately 3 km. However many weather and climate impacts occur over much finer scales, especially in urban areas and regions with high topographic complexity like mountains or coastal regions. Thus several statistical methods have been developed in the climate community to downscale numerical model output to finer resolutions. This is conceptually similar to image super-resolution (SR) and in this work we report the results of applying SR methods to the downscaling problem. In particular we test the extent to which a SR method based on a Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) can recover a grid of wind speed from an artificially downsampled version, compared against a standard bicubic upsampling approach and another state-of-the-art machine learning based approach, SR-CNN. We use ESRGAN to learn to downscale wind speeds by a factor of 4 from a coarse grid. The bicubic and SR-CNN methods perform better thanESRGAN on coarse metrics such as MSE. However, the high frequency power spectrum is captured remarkably well by the ESRGAN, virtually identical to the real data, while bicubic and SR-CNN fidelity drops significantly at high frequency. This indicates that SR is considerably better at matching the higher-order statistics of the dataset, consistent with the observation that the generated images are of superior visual quality compared with SR-CNN.
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