AI to combat climate change: an overview of the first applications

While new temperature records were broken in 2022, and the thermometer has steadily risen year after year since 2010, now more than ever is the time for action. Each higher degree contributes to an increase in the number of lightning strikes by 10-12%, which leads to more forest fires even beyond the Arctic Circle, which was considered protected.

Serge Palariq is Vice President of EMEA at the American company NVIDIA, which specializes in the development of processors and video cards.

From monitoring green spaces to monitoring the oceans, many companies are already using AI to help us better understand, track and respond to the world we live in. Not to mention the miraculous solution, today we are identifying three applications of AI to combat global warming: predicting, monitoring, and mitigating risks.

Predicting climate change

AI is already capable of predicting the weather 100,000 times faster than traditional models. And it can also help us predict the future. Unlike weather forecasts, AI-enabled climate models allow us to model the physics, chemistry, and biology of the atmosphere, water, ice, earth, over several decades…

These simulations are set to a resolution of 10 to 100 kilometers. These different resolutions require processing power millions or even billions of times greater than currently used, for example, to model variables over several years of a water cycle, or to simulate cloud reflections of sunlight and its day-to-day risks.

However, thanks to recent advances in artificial intelligence, ultra-high resolution (x million) climate modeling is closer than ever, especially with Earth-2, a digital twin system that can simulate the evolution of the Earth’s climate. This system includes never-before-seen computing power, over-developed learning models, and a never-before-seen data pipeline to predict the regional impact of climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies.

Predicting extreme weather changes decades into the future will provide early warnings to adapt and improve infrastructure resilience.

Monitoring and adaptation to climate change

AI is evolving incredibly fast. Companies and research groups are already using it to understand, monitor and address climate change issues. Forest fires are responsible for about 6% of CO2 emissions on the planet. Zurich-based startup OroraTech is using artificial intelligence and satellites to develop a wildfire detection and monitoring service. With nanosatellites built by a compact and super-powerful AI computer, OroraTech can detect the start of wildfires anywhere in the world and alert emergency response teams on the ground with images that can act immediately.

For example, wildfires, monsoon floods, earthquakes, or simply extreme weather can be lethal. A team of data scientists applied deep learning to 66,000 satellite images to create AI models to predict flood zones. Their easily reproducible models can be applied to new geographic areas and work by analyzing pixels to detect things like land and water.

In addition to temperature, climate change affects general weather patterns, which affects all living organisms. So how do you mitigate the risks?

Climate change mitigation

It is necessary to take action now. Businesses of all sizes around the world are using AI to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Of the 8.3 billion tons of virgin plastic produced annually, only 9% is recycled, despite decades of efforts to reduce the amount of plastic being thrown away. Using artificial intelligence-assisted visualization, London-based startup Recycleye is improving the accuracy of the identification of recyclable materials by recyclers. Quality recyclable materials are transferred to plastic manufacturers as part of a cyclical recycling process and reused for other purposes.

Another example is Caltech’s space solar energy project, which completely eliminates CO2-emitting energy. Their technology collects solar energy in space and then transmits it to Earth using microwaves. Because this type of transmission is not dependent on weather conditions or the amount of sunlight, this energy can be continuously available around the world. The National Space Society predicts that space-based solar power could provide more power than all other energy sources combined, with very little negative environmental impact.

It is initiatives like these, and the pooling of the best talent from around the world, that will make it possible to find solutions to combat global warming.

Working together to tackle climate change

In an era of accelerated digitization of all processes, the world is virtualizing, expanding access to knowledge for learning communities. With this accelerated knowledge sharing, more companies are developing AI solutions and collaborating with enthusiastic developers to find solutions to global warming.

AI now goes far beyond the voice assistant built into a smartphone, or the algorithms for recommending TV programs, directions, or replying to messages. And more and more teams are already working on one of its noblest applications: saving the planet.

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