Radiative transfer (RT) is a crucial but computationally expensive process in numerical weather/climate prediction. We develop neural networks (NN) to emulate a common RT parameterization called the Rapid Radiative Transfer Model (RRTM), with the goal of creating a faster parameterization for the Global Forecast System (GFS) v16. In previous work we emulated a highly simplified version of the shortwave RRTM only—excluding many predictor variables, driven by Rapid Refresh forecasts interpolated to a consistent height grid, using only 30 sites in the Northern Hemisphere. In this work we emulate the full shortwave and longwave RRTM—with all predictor variables, driven by GFSv16 forecasts on the native pressure–sigma grid, using data from around the globe. We experiment with NNs of widely varying complexity, including the U-net++ and U-net3+ architectures and deeply supervised training, designed to ensure realistic and accurate structure in gridded predictions. We evaluate the optimal shortwave NN and optimal longwave NN in great detail—as a function of geographic location, cloud regime, and other weather types. Both NNs produce extremely reliable heating rates and fluxes. The shortwave NN has an overall RMSE/MAE/bias of 0.14/0.08/−0.002 K day−1for heating rate and 6.3/4.3/−0.1 W m−2for net flux. Analogous numbers for the longwave NN are 0.22/0.12/−0.0006 K day−1and 1.07/0.76/+0.01 W m−2. Both NNs perform well in nearly all situations, and the shortwave (longwave) NN is 7510 (90) times faster than the RRTM. Both will soon be tested online in the GFSv16.
Radiative transfer is an important process for weather and climate. Accurate radiative transfer models exist, such as the RRTM, but these models are computationally slow. We develop neural networks (NNs), a type of machine learning model that is often computationally fast after training, to mimic the RRTM. We wish to accelerate the RRTM by orders of magnitude without sacrificing much accuracy. We drive both the NNs and RRTM with data from the GFSv16, an operational weather model, using locations around the globe during all seasons. We show that the NNs are highly accurate and much faster than the RRTM, which suggests that the NNs could be used to solve radiative transfer inside the GFSv16.