The increasing frequency of extreme weather events worldwide in 2023 has heightened concerns about the impacts of climate change. In response, NASA and IBM have unveiled an innovative artificial intelligence (AI) tool that can predict how climate change will affect specific locations, including individual homes and neighborhoods. This tool, presented at COP28, offers a powerful resource for monitoring and understanding environmental changes, as well as making informed decisions in the face of climate-related challenges.
A closer look at the AI tool
The AI tool, developed through a collaboration between NASA and IBM, leverages the capabilities of AI to analyze vast datasets and generate insights about the effects of climate change. Unlike traditional climate models, this tool provides a granular view of environmental changes, allowing users to visualize the impact on their homes and communities.
Empowering individuals and communities
One of the key features of this AI tool is its accessibility. When it becomes available in 2024, it will be accessible to nations, corporations, charities, and individuals alike. Users can harness its capabilities to gain insights into various aspects of climate change, including tree cover, carbon emissions, flooding, and wildfire risk.
Dr. Juan Bernabe-Moreno, director of IBM Research Europe for Ireland and the UK, emphasized the versatility of the tool. Users can employ it to plan travel routes, choose locations for new homes, or make informed decisions about areas to avoid due to climate-related risks.
He stated, “There are many ideas about what you can do – the use of the application is really up to the people. But instead of having to be a big tech [corporation] to create this application, making it open-source means putting it in the hands of the community.”
How the AI tool works
The AI tool is built upon a foundational model powered by AI algorithms. This model can navigate complex systems and analyze raw data effectively. IBM collaborated with NASA, drawing upon the space agency’s vast datasets, including information from satellites, to develop the tool.
While the tool doesn’t require advanced technical infrastructure, it may benefit from a moderate amount of graphics processing units (GPUs) to operate effectively. This GPU requirement is accessible to many users, including those with high-performance gaming laptops.
Advancing climate Science and preparedness
This AI tool’s potential applications extend beyond individual decision-making. Its ability to generate real projections about climate impacts, such as those related to ice loss at the poles, holds promise for advancing climate science. It could lead to more accurate weather forecasts and predictions regarding extreme events like hurricanes and droughts.
Furthermore, these projections may serve as valuable resources for authorities and governments to develop and implement emergency plans in response to climate-related challenges.
Promoting accountability and community involvement
By making the tool open-source, NASA and IBM aim to promote accountability and community engagement. Communities can use the tool to hold governments accountable for their climate-related promises and commitments made at international events like COP28.
The Government of Kenya has already employed an earlier version of this model to track the progress of its reforestation program, showcasing the practical use of this technology in real-world scenarios.
Dr. Bernabe-Moreno referred to this approach as the “democratization of weather and climate.” He expressed his enthusiasm for putting the ability to model climate and weather into the hands of the community, emphasizing the tool’s potential to empower individuals and organizations to address climate change proactively.
NASA and IBM’s AI tool represents a significant step forward in climate science and preparedness. By providing accessible, localized insights into the impacts of climate change, it empowers individuals and communities to make informed decisions and engage in climate-related discussions and actions. This democratization of climate data is a crucial aspect of building climate resilience and fostering accountability at all levels, from individual households to global governance. As the tool becomes available in 2024, its potential to drive positive change in the face of climate change is undeniable.