May 23, 2023
Journal Article

Emulating Aerosol Optics with Randomly Generated Neural Networks


Atmospheric aerosols have a substantial impact on climate and remain one of the largest sources of uncertainty in climate forecasts. Accurate representation of their direct radiative effects is a crucial component of modern climate models. Explicit computation of the radiative properties of aerosols is far too computationally expensive to perform in a climate model however, so optical properties are typically approximated using a parameterization. This work develops artificial neural networks (ANNs) capable of replacing the current aerosol optics parameterization used in the Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM). A large training dataset is generated by using Mie code to directly compute the optical properties of a range of atmospheric aerosol populations given a large variety of particle sizes, wavelengths, and refractive indices. Optimal neural architectures for shortwave and longwave bands are identified by evaluating ANNs with randomly generated wirings. Randomly generated deep ANNs are able to outperform conventional multi-layer perceptron style architectures with comparable parameter counts. Finally, the ANN-based parameterization is found to dramatically outperform the current parameterization. The success of this approach makes possible the future inclusion of much more sophisticated representations of aerosol optics in climate models that cannot be captured through simple expansion of the existing parameterization scheme.

Published: May 23, 2023


Geiss A.V., P. Ma, B. Singh, and J.C. Hardin. 2023. Emulating Aerosol Optics with Randomly Generated Neural Networks. Geoscientific Model Development 16, no. 9:2355–2370. PNNL-SA-173125. doi:10.5194/gmd-16-2355-2023