NASA partners with IBM to build AI for weather and climate – Times of India

US space agency NASA has announced its partnership with tech major IBM to develop an AI foundation model which will be used for weather and climate. For this model, NASA and IBM will combine their knowledge and skills in the Earth science and AI fields, respectively. The companies have claimed that the upcoming AI model should offer “significant advantages over existing technology.” It is important to note that other AI models like GraphCastand Fourcastnet can generate weather forecasts more quickly than traditional meteorological models that are already available.In a statement to Engadget, IBM notes that the available tools are merely AI emulators and not foundation models.
Difference between foundational models and AI emulators
As the name suggests, foundational models are the base technologies that power generative AI apps. Meanwhile, AI emulators can make weather predictions based on sets of training data. IBM also explained that these emulators don’t have any other usage beyond that and are unable to encode the physics at the core of weather forecasting.
NASA and IBM’s plans for the foundational model
The companies want their foundation model to have expanded accessibility, faster inference times and greater diversity of data when compared to the current models. Both IBM and NASA also want their model to improve forecasting accuracy for other climate applications.

The capabilities that are expected from the model include predicting meteorological phenomena, inferring high-res information based on low-res data and “identifying conditions conducive to everything from aeroplane turbulence to wildfires.”

In May, NASA and IBM deployed another foundational model that harnesses data from NASA satellites for geospatial intelligence. According to IBM, it’s the largest geospatial model on the open-source AI platform Hugging Face.
Until now, the previous model has been used to track and visualise tree planting and growing activities in water tower areas (forest landscapes that retain water) in Kenya. This will help in planting more trees and tackle water scarcity issues. This model is also being used to analyse urban heat islands in the United Arab Emirates.

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