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India is testing AI for improved weather forecasting

  • Published
    29th Dec, 2023
Context

Weather agencies around the world are focusing on AI, which can help in cutting down costs and improving speed

Background
  • As India grapples with the escalating challenges of climate change, the country is turning to cutting-edge technology to enhance its weather forecasting capabilities.
  • With a population of 1.4 billion and being a major global producer of water-intensive crops, such as rice, wheat, and sugar, India recognizes the critical role of accurate weather forecasting.
  • In a significant leap, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) is now integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI) into its climate models to revolutionize weather predictions.

The Imperative for Accurate Weather Forecasting

I.   Water-Intensive Agriculture

  • India stands as the second-largest producer of water-intensive crops globally, emphasizing the need for precise weather forecasts.
  • Crops like rice, wheat, and sugar are vital to India's economy, making accurate weather predictions crucial for agricultural planning and resource allocation.

II.  AI's Potential Impact

  • KS Hosalikar, head of climate research and services at IMD, expresses optimism, stating that AI-based climate models are expected to enhance the accuracy of weather forecasts.
  • The integration of AI and Machine Learning (ML) techniques aims to improve prediction skills for weather, climate, and ocean forecasts across various institutes under the ministry.

III. Advancements in Weather Forecasting Technology

1. IMD's Mathematical Models

  • IMD plans to provide forecasts based on mathematical models run on powerful supercomputers.
  • The government underscores the role of AI and ML in refining the prediction capabilities, signaling a shift towards more advanced and data-driven forecasting methods.

IV. Global Focus on AI in Weather Forecasting

1. Cost-Efficiency and Speed

  • Weather agencies worldwide are increasingly turning to AI due to its potential to reduce costs and enhance forecasting speed.
  • The ability to predict weather patterns is integral to understanding and addressing the impacts of climate change.

2. Impact of Extreme Weather Events

  • According to the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), extreme weather events linked to global warming have resulted in over 3,000 deaths in India this year alone.
  • The urgency to improve weather forecasting capabilities is underscored by the growing frequency and intensity of these events.

Challenges and the Role of Data

1. Need for High-Resolution Data

  • Experts, including Parthasarathi Mukhopadhyay from the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, emphasize the importance of high-resolution data for effective AI models.
  • The success of AI in weather forecasting hinges on having precise and timely data for location-specific magnification of existing model forecasts.

Innovative AI Tools in Climate Science

1. Watsonx.ai: A Joint Initiative by NASA and IBM

  • Watsonx.ai is an AI tool collaboratively developed by NASA and IBM.
  • It not only measures environmental changes that have already occurred but also makes predictions about future changes, showcasing the potential for AI in advancing climate science.

Future Outlook:

  • As India pioneers the integration of AI into its weather forecasting infrastructure, the journey towards more accurate predictions holds promise.
  • The intersection of technology, climate science, and agriculture is crucial for sustaining a growing population in the face of climate challenges.
  • The global focus on leveraging AI for weather forecasting underscores the shared commitment to mitigating the impacts of climate change and safeguarding vulnerable communities.
  • The success of these initiatives will depend on continued innovation, collaboration, and a data-driven approach to confront the evolving dynamics of our planet's climate.
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