IBM and NASA to research impact of climate change with AI

SWIR false color composite of the snow capped Himalayas on November 28, 2022 (Source: NASA IMPACT)
SWIR false color composite of the snow capped Himalayas on November 28, 2022 (Source: NASA IMPACT)
New IBM foundation model technology leverages NASA earth science data for geospatial intelligence

IBM and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center have announced a collaboration to use IBM’s AI technology to discover new insights in NASA’s massive trove of Earth and geospatial science data. The joint work will apply AI foundation model technology to NASA’s Earth-observing satellite data for the first time.

Foundation models are types of AI models that are trained on a broad set of unlabeled data, can be used for different tasks, and can apply information about one situation to another. These models have rapidly advanced the field of natural language processing (NLP) technology over the last five years, and IBM is pioneering applications of foundation models beyond language.

Earth observations that allow scientists to study and monitor our planet are being gathered at unprecedented rates and volume. New and innovative approaches are required to extract knowledge from these vast data resources. The goal of this work is to provide an easier way for researchers to analyse and draw insights from these large datasets. IBM’s foundation model technology has the potential to speed up the discovery and analysis of these data in order to quickly advance the scientific understanding of Earth and response to climate-related issues. 

Technologies to extract insights from observations of Earth

IBM and NASA plan to develop several new technologies to extract insights from Earth observations. One project will train an IBM geospatial intelligence foundation model on NASA’s Harmonized Landsat Sentinel-2 (HLS) dataset, a record of land cover and land use changes captured by Earth-orbiting satellites. By analysing petabytes of satellite data to identify changes in the geographic footprint of phenomena such as natural disasters, cyclical crop yields, and wildlife habitats, this foundation model technology will help researchers provide critical analysis of our planet’s environmental systems.

Another output from this collaboration is expected to be an easily searchable corpus of Earth science literature. IBM has developed an NLP model trained on nearly 300,000 Earth science journal articles to organise the literature and make it easier to discover new knowledge. Containing one of the largest AI workloads trained on Red Hat’s OpenShift software to date, the fully trained model uses PrimeQA, IBM’s open-source multilingual question-answering system. Beyond providing a resource to researchers, the new language model for Earth science could be infused into NASA’s scientific data management and stewardship processes.

“The beauty of foundation models is they can potentially be used for many downstream applications,” said Rahul Ramachandran, Senior Research Scientist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. “Building these foundation models cannot be tackled by small teams,” he added. “You need teams across different organisations to bring their different perspectives, resources, and skill sets.” 

“Foundation models have proven successful in natural language processing, and it’s time to expand that to new domains and modalities important for business and society,” said Raghu Ganti, Principal Researcher at IBM. “Applying foundation models to geospatial, event-sequence, time-series, and other non-language factors within Earth science data could make enormously valuable insights and information suddenly available to a much wider group of researchers, businesses, and citizens. Ultimately, it could facilitate a larger number of people working on some of our most pressing climate issues.”

Other potential IBM-NASA joint projects in this agreement include constructing a foundation model for weather and climate prediction using MERRA-2, a dataset of atmospheric observations. This collaboration is part of NASA’s Open-Source Science Initiative, a commitment to building an inclusive, transparent, and collaborative open science community over the next decade.

Share

Featured Articles

Devoteam Expands into UK Market, Acquires Ubertas Consulting

Devoteam acquires cloud business and AWS consultancy, Ubertas Consulting, to deliver AWS services to a broader client base and expand into UK markets

NTT DATA: Outdated Tech Holding Back Global Organisations

Outdated technology infrastructure is hindering progress and innovation for the vast majority of organisations, reveals a new global report from NTT DATA

CGG Rebrands to Viridien to Become an Advanced Tech Company

Longstanding French geoscience and technology company CGG has rebranded as Viridien, pivoting to high-growth areas like HPC and AI solutions

Zoom Invests in UK Market with Immersive Experience Centre

Digital Transformation

Gen AI, Drones & Digital Labels: How Walmart is Evolving CX

Digital Transformation

EY: UK Remains Europe's Top FDI Destination for Digital Tech

Digital Transformation