The partnership will see the organizations work together to develop AI models that will enable improved forecasting, including for extreme weather events, helping to save lives and protect critical national infrastructure.
Currently, the UK’s national meteorological service uses information from satellites as well as observational data from weather stations on Earth and runs simulations on a supercomputer that generates forecasts for people around the world.
The organizations state that they hope the collaboration will accelerate work to deploy machine learning (ML) technology alongside traditional techniques to improve the forecasting of some extreme weather events, such as exceptional rainfall or impactful thunderstorms, with even greater accuracy, helping communities to increase their resilience.
In the first phase of the project, researchers will develop a new AI model, known as a graph neural network, to forecast weather patterns. This will enable them to test the accuracy of their new model against existing weather forecasting methods – like numerical weather prediction.
The researchers will then incorporate the AI model into the Met Office’s existing supercomputer infrastructure to be able to more routinely compare its accuracy to their existing physics-based forecasting methods already in use.
When at a deployable stage, the technology is expected to help save lives by improving the forecasting of extreme weather events. It is also to boost the UK economy by increasing the number of tailored forecasts and providing detailed information to aid decision making across the public sector and private industry.
Dr Jean Innes, CEO at The Alan Turing Institute, said, “This project aims to tackle the big hold-out problem in weather prediction – fast and accurate prediction of impactful weather events, which sadly are capable of bringing devastating consequences to communities in the UK and abroad. This is an enormously ambitious project. Using the complex and rich meteorological data sets and expertise from the Met Office, and AI expertise from the Turing, we aim to save lives, protect infrastructure and push the boundaries of scientific understanding for the benefit of communities here in the UK and internationally.”
Professor Kirstine Dale, chief AI officer at the UK Met Office, commented, “We are excited to work with The Turing Institute to accelerate AI-based forecasting. AI is increasingly becoming a feature of many people’s lives and the weather and ongoing climate change affect everyone on Earth. So, developing artificial intelligence for weather forecasting is a logical progression of the technology that has the potential for such wide benefits to societies around the world.”
Viscount Camrose, UK Minister for artificial intelligence and intellectual property, said, “AI models will have a transformative effect on our ability to forecast and respond to extreme weather events that threaten lives and property. As I have seen first-hand, the Met Office’s swift adoption of this rapidly emerging technology will not only help in our preparedness but also enable a more effective response in the fight against extreme weather and climate change.”
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