Chaopeng Shen


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Differentiable modelling to unify machine learning and physical models for geosciences
Chaopeng Shen, Alison P. Appling, Pierre Gentine, Toshiyuki Bandai, Hoshin Gupta, Alexandre M. Tartakovsky, Marco Baity‐Jesi, Fabrizio Fenicia, Daniel Kifer, Li Li, Xiaofeng Liu, Wei Ren, Yi Zheng, C. J. Harman, Martyn P. Clark, Matthew W. Farthing, Dapeng Feng, Kumar Prabhash, Doaa Aboelyazeed, Farshid Rahmani, Yalan Song, Hylke E. Beck, Tadd Bindas, Dipankar Dwivedi, Kuai Fang, Marvin Höge, Chris Rackauckas, Binayak P. Mohanty, Tirthankar Roy, Chonggang Xu, Kathryn Lawson
Nature Reviews Earth & Environment, Volume 4, Issue 8

Process-based modelling offers interpretability and physical consistency in many domains of geosciences but struggles to leverage large datasets efficiently. Machine-learning methods, especially deep networks, have strong predictive skills yet are unable to answer specific scientific questions. In this Perspective, we explore differentiable modelling as a pathway to dissolve the perceived barrier between process-based modelling and machine learning in the geosciences and demonstrate its potential with examples from hydrological modelling. ‘Differentiable’ refers to accurately and efficiently calculating gradients with respect to model variables or parameters, enabling the discovery of high-dimensional unknown relationships. Differentiable modelling involves connecting (flexible amounts of) prior physical knowledge to neural networks, pushing the boundary of physics-informed machine learning. It offers better interpretability, generalizability, and extrapolation capabilities than purely data-driven machine learning, achieving a similar level of accuracy while requiring less training data. Additionally, the performance and efficiency of differentiable models scale well with increasing data volumes. Under data-scarce scenarios, differentiable models have outperformed machine-learning models in producing short-term dynamics and decadal-scale trends owing to the imposed physical constraints. Differentiable modelling approaches are primed to enable geoscientists to ask questions, test hypotheses, and discover unrecognized physical relationships. Future work should address computational challenges, reduce uncertainty, and verify the physical significance of outputs. Differentiable modelling is an approach that flexibly integrates the learning capability of machine learning with the interpretability of process-based models. This Perspective highlights the potential of differentiable modelling to improve the representation of processes, parameter estimation, and predictive accuracy in the geosciences.

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Hybrid forecasting: blending climate predictions with AI models
Louise Slater, Louise Arnal, Marie‐Amélie Boucher, Annie Y.-Y. Chang, Simon Moulds, Conor Murphy, Grey Nearing, Guy Shalev, Chaopeng Shen, Linda Speight, Gabriele Villarini, Robert L. Wilby, Andy Wood, Massimiliano Zappa
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, Volume 27, Issue 9

Abstract. Hybrid hydroclimatic forecasting systems employ data-driven (statistical or machine learning) methods to harness and integrate a broad variety of predictions from dynamical, physics-based models – such as numerical weather prediction, climate, land, hydrology, and Earth system models – into a final prediction product. They are recognized as a promising way of enhancing the prediction skill of meteorological and hydroclimatic variables and events, including rainfall, temperature, streamflow, floods, droughts, tropical cyclones, or atmospheric rivers. Hybrid forecasting methods are now receiving growing attention due to advances in weather and climate prediction systems at subseasonal to decadal scales, a better appreciation of the strengths of AI, and expanding access to computational resources and methods. Such systems are attractive because they may avoid the need to run a computationally expensive offline land model, can minimize the effect of biases that exist within dynamical outputs, benefit from the strengths of machine learning, and can learn from large datasets, while combining different sources of predictability with varying time horizons. Here we review recent developments in hybrid hydroclimatic forecasting and outline key challenges and opportunities for further research. These include obtaining physically explainable results, assimilating human influences from novel data sources, integrating new ensemble techniques to improve predictive skill, creating seamless prediction schemes that merge short to long lead times, incorporating initial land surface and ocean/ice conditions, acknowledging spatial variability in landscape and atmospheric forcing, and increasing the operational uptake of hybrid prediction schemes.


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Hillslope Hydrology in Global Change Research and Earth System Modeling
Ying Fan, Martyn P. Clark, David M. Lawrence, Sean Swenson, Lawrence E. Band, Susan L. Brantley, P. D. Brooks, W. E. Dietrich, Alejandro N. Flores, Gordon E. Grant, James W. Kirchner, D. S. Mackay, Jeffrey J. McDonnell, P. C. D. Milly, Pamela Sullivan, Christina Tague, Hoori Ajami, Nathaniel W. Chaney, Andreas Hartmann, P. Hazenberg, J. P. McNamara, Jon D. Pelletier, J. Perket, Elham Rouholahnejad Freund, Thorsten Wagener, Xubin Zeng, R. Edward Beighley, Jonathan Buzan, Maoyi Huang, Ben Livneh, Binayak P. Mohanty, Bart Nijssen, Mohammad Safeeq, Chaopeng Shen, Willem van Verseveld, John Volk, Dai Yamazaki
Water Resources Research, Volume 55, Issue 2

Earth System Models (ESMs) are essential tools for understanding and predicting global change, but they cannot explicitly resolve hillslope‐scale terrain structures that fundamentally organize water, energy, and biogeochemical stores and fluxes at subgrid scales. Here we bring together hydrologists, Critical Zone scientists, and ESM developers, to explore how hillslope structures may modulate ESM grid‐level water, energy, and biogeochemical fluxes. In contrast to the one‐dimensional (1‐D), 2‐ to 3‐m deep, and free‐draining soil hydrology in most ESM land models, we hypothesize that 3‐D, lateral ridge‐to‐valley flow through shallow and deep paths and insolation contrasts between sunny and shady slopes are the top two globally quantifiable organizers of water and energy (and vegetation) within an ESM grid cell. We hypothesize that these two processes are likely to impact ESM predictions where (and when) water and/or energy are limiting. We further hypothesize that, if implemented in ESM land models, these processes will increase simulated continental water storage and residence time, buffering terrestrial ecosystems against seasonal and interannual droughts. We explore efficient ways to capture these mechanisms in ESMs and identify critical knowledge gaps preventing us from scaling up hillslope to global processes. One such gap is our extremely limited knowledge of the subsurface, where water is stored (supporting vegetation) and released to stream baseflow (supporting aquatic ecosystems). We conclude with a set of organizing hypotheses and a call for global syntheses activities and model experiments to assess the impact of hillslope hydrology on global change predictions.