AI boosts climate change action, postgrad course shows
01 December 2023
Developing artificial intelligence to curb and adapt to climate change is the goal of a pioneering new course at the University of Reading.
Today (Friday, December 1), policymakers and climate experts at the COP28 conference in Dubai are discussing the ways in which technology can play a part in combatting the effects of global warming and extreme weather, but many of the innovations of tomorrow could be developed at the University of Reading.
The University of Reading launched its ‘Climate Change and AI’ master's course last year in the aim that the next generation of physical, mathematical and computational scientists and engineers can harness artificial intelligence and machine learning to solve some of the biggest environmental problems the planet is facing.
Dr Kieran Hunt, a Reading climate scientist who supervised one of the first cohort of students, said: “COP28 attendees will be talking about some of the cutting-edge technology being used to win the fight against climate change. At Reading, we’re teaching our students to use AI for the good of the planet. Climate change presents many problems and it will take a lot of ingenuity to conquer them.
“AI is becoming a big part of our lives, and the artificial intelligence we’re working with is actually quite similar to the technology used in chat bots or image generators. Our students have a unique opportunity to create and use exciting new tools to help communities vulnerable to the worst effects of climate change.”
Reading staff are developing a wide range of research projects for the MSc course that use artificial intelligence to improve understanding of climate change.
Examples of such projects include:
● Analysing the impact of vegetation on climate change using AI
● Using satellite imagery to understand weather regimes
● Building AI applications to predict daily energy demand in Indian states
● Analysing how well did AI weather models forecast Hurricane Otis
The course is believed to be the first postgraduate course of its kind in the UK. Students learn about the science of climate change, understanding artificial intelligence and machine learning applications, as well as the values, ethics and justice of climate change among other topics.
In collaboration with Henley Business School, the course was designed for individuals who want to improve their understanding of climate science and AI techniques and be prepared for current – or future – managerial responsibilities. The course addresses the growing demand for individuals with understanding of both our changing climate and artificial intelligence, together with the business acumen to deploy that expertise effectively.
Students on the MSc Climate Change and Artificial Intelligence course are surrounded by computer science, weather and climate experts in Reading. The Walker Institute, members of the UK Met Office, the National Centre for Atmospheric Science and the National Centre for Earth Observation are all currently located in close proximity to the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading.
Tech companies such as Microsoft, Oracle, IBM and Cisco are all based in Berkshire and Reading is also home to the Thames Valley AI Hub (TVAI Hub), a community of academics, researchers, technicians, clinicians and business strategists working to develop business opportunities within the artificial intelligence sector.
The University of Reading is now accepting applications for prospective students to start in September 2024. The course can be studied either full-time over 12 months or part-time over 24 months and scholarships are available. Students who have degrees in related subjects - as well as mathematics, engineering, physics, chemistry, and economics - are encouraged to apply.