Climate change is quickly becoming recognized as one of the greatest challenges of our time. Artificial Intelligence (AI) shows great promise to help us re-envision our future. APL researchers are leveraging AI to tackle the climate crisis – to better understand the state of the climate through improved monitoring and modeling, to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through mitigation, and to help our sponsors adapt to the already occurring effects of climate change.
Artificial Intelligence is an increasingly powerful tool for performing and improving monitoring and modeling tasks. APL researchers leverage strengths in AI and machine learning, data science, and math and statistics to perform environmental monitoring at a global scale, accelerate Physical models, and manage uncertainty and gaps in data.
Environmental monitoring is particularly relevant in the context of climate change where there is often a need for high resolution and global estimation of climate related factors. For example, APL is part of the Climate TRACE coalition, aiming to estimate global greenhouse gas emissions using satellite imagery and other sources of data. APL’s approach to estimating road transportation emissions was recognized for a Best Paper award at the EarthVision 2021 Workshop as part of CVPR.
Figure 1: As part of the Climate TRACE coalition, APL researchers developed an approach to estimate global greenhouse gas emissions from road transportation in near real-time and at a higher spatial resolution than previous approaches.
AI also promises to accelerate Physical models, which can be computationally heavy and time-consuming. With respect to climate change research, in particular, there are many climate-related models that are extremely large and expensive to run, greatly reducing the ability to explore parameter spaces and to understand the impact of mitigation and adaptation measures. Through innovative research in AI-assisted modeling, APL researchers are working collaboratively with the JHU Krieger School of Arts and Sciences to model and identify tipping points in Earth’s systems through the DARPA AI-assisted Climate Tipping Point Modeling (ACTM) program. Check out this DARPA podcast, which features our approach.
In order to mitigate climate change, the world needs to change how it operates in every economic sector. APL researchers seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by using AI to optimize energy use to heat and cool buildings, ensure a resilient distributed power grid as the nation and world move towards renewables, develop new and impactful ways of performing Precision Agriculture, which could lead to more efficient farming systems, and more.
Figure 2: APL researchers developed a reinforcement learning (RL) approach to improve how food is grown under stress conditions that may occur as a result of climate change.
Even as the world scrambles to mitigate climate change, the effects are already being felt worldwide. Our sponsors need to adapt to the negative effects of climate change to ensure their mission can be carried out and geopolitical stability is maintained worldwide. APL researchers are using AI, machine learning, data science and mathematics to perform Arctic sea ice forecasts to aid with Arctic navigation, model the effects of climate change on geopolitical stability, predict resource shortfalls, forecast air quality with improved air transport models, and more.
Figure 3: APL researchers developed a modular framework for system integration, facilitating system-of-system models of how various resource systems interact, as well as improved and faster prediction of resource shortfalls.
For more information or to join our team, please contact us at ISC@jhuapl.edu