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Communications of the ACM

ACM TechNews

Machine Learning Storms Into Climate Research


A tropical storm.

Climate science will see significant benefits from machine learning, and scientists in the field are pushing hard to see how the technology can help them address the challenges presented by climate change.

Credit: PalmBeachPost.com

Climate change researchers are aggressively pushing for the incorporation of machine learning within their field, as showcased at the recent Conference on Artificial and Computational Intelligence and Its Applications to the Environmental Sciences. The various projects on display were linked by the common goal of applying machine-learning tools to identify patterns in vast volumes of climate data in order to save lives, time, and money in a rapidly changing environment.

For one project, scientists at the Goddard Space Flight Center combined a machine-learning algorithm and crowdsourcing methods to better classify marine low clouds using satellite images from the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Goddard's Cynthia Rosenzweig says climate researchers can provide decision-makers with the information they need to make more informed decisions on responses to the effects of climate change. "We need to utilize our science to understand how effective the interventions are--what's working and what's not," she says.

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