The power of AI in combating climate change: 9 inspiring cases

Climate change is one of the most urgent and complex challenges facing humanity today. It threatens the health, livelihoods, and security of millions of people around the world, as well as the stability and sustainability of the planet. To address this challenge, we need to harness the power of artificial intelligence (AI), which is a branch of computer science that aims to create machines and systems that can perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as learning, reasoning, and decision making.

AI has the potential to help us combat and mitigate the effects of climate change in various ways, such as improving our understanding of the causes and consequences of climate change, enhancing our ability to monitor and model the climate system, and supporting our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to changing conditions. Here are nine inspiring cases of how AI is being used to fight climate change across different domains and sectors:

Monitoring icebergs: Scientists at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom have developed an AI system that can measure changes in icebergs 10,000 times faster than a human could do it. The system uses satellite images and deep learning, a type of AI that can learn from data and improve its performance, to map large Antarctic icebergs and estimate how much meltwater they release into the ocean. This information can help us understand how icebergs affect sea level rise and ocean circulation, which are key factors in the climate system.

Mapping deforestation: Space Intelligence, a company based in Edinburgh, Scotland, uses AI and satellite data to map the impact of deforestation on the climate crisis. The company’s technology can remotely measure metrics such as deforestation rates and carbon storage in forests, which are important indicators of the health of the ecosystems and the climate. The company works with governments, NGOs, and businesses in more than 30 countries to help them protect and restore forests and achieve their climate goals.

Predicting weather patterns: The United Nations is using AI to help communities vulnerable to climate change in Burundi, Chad, and Sudan. The project, called IKI, uses AI technology to analyse historical and current environmental data around displacement hotspots and provide future projections to inform adaptation measures and anticipatory action. The project also involves training local experts and authorities on how to use AI tools and data to enhance their resilience and preparedness.

Supporting pastoralists: MyAnga is a mobile app that uses AI to help Kenyan pastoralists cope with drought. The app uses data from global meteorological stations and satellites to provide real-time information on weather, vegetation, and water availability to the users.It also uses machine learning, another type of AI that can learn from data and make predictions, to provide personalised recommendations and alerts to the users based on their location, livestock, and preferences. The app helps the pastoralists plan ahead, manage their resources, and find suitable grazing areas for their animals.

Optimising renewable energy: Google is using AI to improve the efficiency and reliability of its wind farms. The company uses a neural network, a type of AI that can mimic the structure and function of the human brain, to predict wind power output 36 hours ahead of actual generation. The system then optimises the delivery of wind energy to the grid based on the forecast. This helps Google reduce the variability and uncertainty of wind power and increase its value and competitiveness.

Designing green buildings: Autodesk, a software company that specialises in 3D design, engineering, and entertainment, uses AI to help architects and engineers design more energy-efficient buildings. The company’s tool, called Project Refinery, uses generative design, a type of AI that can explore multiple design options and find the best solutions based on predefined criteria and constraints. The tool can help designers optimise various aspects of a building, such as its shape, orientation, material, and performance, to reduce its energy consumption and environmental impact.

Reducing food waste: Winnow, a start-up based in London, uses AI to help restaurants and kitchens reduce food waste. The company’s product, called Winnow Vision, uses a camera and a smart scale to automatically identify and weigh the food that is thrown away. The system then uses deep learning to analyse the data and provide insights and feedback to the users on how to reduce their food waste and save money. The company claims that its product can help kitchens cut their food waste in half and save up to 8% of their food costs.

Improving air quality: BreezoMeter, a company based in Israel, uses AI to provide accurate and actionable air quality data to individuals and organisations. The company’s technology uses data from various sources, such as satellites, weather stations, traffic cameras, and sensors, to create high-resolution maps of air pollution levels and forecasts. The company also uses machine learning to provide personalised recommendations and alerts to the users on how to protect themselves and improve their health and well-being.

Advancing climate research: Climate Change AI, a global initiative of researchers and practitioners, uses AI to accelerate and enhance climate research and innovation. The initiative aims to foster collaboration and communication among the AI and climate communities, provide education and training on the applications and limitations of AI for climate change, and support the development and deployment of AI solutions for climate challenges. The initiative also organises events, workshops, and competitions to showcase and promote the latest research and projects in the field.

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