IBM adopts the use of geospatial AI technologies in an attempt to address climate challenges. The company has collaborated with several organizations on various climate-related projects that include mapping of urban heat islands in the UAE, reforestation efforts in Kenya, climate resiliency in the UK, and the development of a new AI foundation model for weather and climate in partnership with NASA.
Geospatial Foundation Models for Climate Solutions
IBM’s approach involves the creation, training, fine-tuning, and open-sourcing of geospatial foundation models in collaboration with NASA. Unlike traditional AI models tailored for specific tasks, these foundation models, trained on vast amounts of geospatial information such as satellite images and weather data, offer a unique opportunity to accelerate the discovery of environmental insights and solutions related to climate change.
Mapping Urban Heat Islands in the UAE
IBM has joined forces with the Mohamed Bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) to tackle the issue of urban heat islands in the UAE. Using a fine-tuned version of IBM’s geospatial foundation model, the collaboration aims to understand the urban environment in Abu Dhabi and its impact on the formation of heat islands. The model has already contributed to a significant reduction in heat island effects in the region. The ongoing research is expected to inform urban design strategies to alleviate urban heat stress in changing climates.
Reforestation and Water Sustainability in Kenya
In collaboration with the Kenyan government’s office of the Special Envoy for Climate Change Ali Mohamed, IBM has launched an “adopt-a-water-tower” initiative to support Kenya’s National Tree Growing and Restoration Campaign. The campaign, which aims to plant 15 billion trees by 2032, focuses on critically affected water towers. IBM’s geospatial foundation model powers a digital platform that enables users to track and visualize tree planting activities, contributing to forest restoration and water sustainability in Kenya.
Climate Resiliency in the UK
IBM, along with the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) Hartree Centre and Royal HaskoningDHV, is collaborating to automate and scale climate risk assessment processes for the aviation sector in the UK. Leveraging IBM’s geospatial AI tools, the initiative will assess the short-term impact of extreme weather on aviation operations and the long-term impact of climate change on future airport operations and infrastructure. Additionally, IBM is working with Dark Matter Labs and Lucidminds on the TreesAI project, applying geospatial AI to map urban locations for strategic tree planting to reduce surface water flooding risks.
AI Foundation Model for Weather and Climate with NASA
IBM and NASA are jointly working on a new AI foundation model for weather and climate. This model aims to enhance the accuracy, speed, and affordability of weather forecasting and other climate applications. Potential applications include forecasting, super-resolution downscaling, wildfire risk identification, and predicting meteorological phenomena. IBM researchers will collaborate with NASA domain experts to train and validate the model, contributing to advancements in weather and climate science.