The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Climate Research and Conservation

Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to protect the environment and mitigate climate change, according to academics, scientists, and environmentalists in Maryland. While there is both excitement and fear surrounding AI, many believe that it can play a crucial role in safeguarding the world’s land, air, and water. The Chesapeake Conservancy, a regional conservation nonprofit, has been at the forefront of utilizing AI for climate research and advocacy.

At its most basic level, AI is already being employed by climate scientists and meteorologists to enhance weather prediction. Machine learning, a form of AI, has significantly improved weather forecasting in recent years. However, AI’s potential goes beyond just weather prediction.

The Chesapeake Conservancy has successfully completed two projects utilizing AI. The first project involved the development of models to map waterways in specific areas, providing valuable information for conservation efforts. The second project focused on tracking large solar energy installations and making predictions for future solar arrays. These projects demonstrate the versatility of AI in the field of climate research.

To ensure the accuracy and effectiveness of their mapping efforts, the Chesapeake Conservancy established the Conservation Innovation Center ten years ago. By leveraging emerging technologies, such as geographic imaging systems and cloud-based computing, they have been able to create better data for informed decision-making.

In addition to mapping wetlands, the Chesapeake Conservancy has collaborated with the Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology to study Maryland’s disappearing forestlands and tree canopy. The findings from this study led to significant forest protection legislation. AI and machine learning have become integral components in advancing conservation efforts.

The potential of AI in protecting the environment and mitigating climate change has gained attention from policymakers. Governor Wes Moore of Maryland expressed interest in incorporating AI into the state’s climate solutions strategy.

While AI continues to evolve and spark controversy, its application in climate research and conservation shows promise. With further developments in AI technology, scientists and conservationists can access invaluable insights and data for effective conservation efforts.