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Explained: How scientists are dealing with deluge of climate data


With modern techniques, there has been an exponential rise in both the quality and quantity of climate data. Scientists are turning to AI and cloud services to better harness the treasure trove of information and create newer, more precise climate models.

Explained: How scientists are dealing with deluge of climate data
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) submitted its Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) this year, which highlighted a ‘code red’ for humanity in the backdrop of undeniable climate change. To make their conclusions in the report, the three working groups of the UN body had to go through mounds of research and several hundred pages of data.
Where is the data coming from?
Data about climate change is only continuing to increase as more modern data-collection techniques and technologies replace older ones. These newer methods mean that a fresh deluge of information is constantly bombarding scientists. Now scientists are trying to figure out how to keep up with the influx of data, while also storing and analysing it at the same time.
New data is collected by sensor-studded satellites, aircraft, ocean buoys, observation missions, topological surveys and more. The soon-to-be launched Surface Water and Ocean Topography mission by NASA costs over $110 million and is just one of several such missions that will provide scientists with the latest data regarding the effect that climate change is having on our planet. But overflow of data can help scientists work to help better our future.
What can the data do?
The data is invaluable for scientists for making accurate models of the climate of Earth, and more importantly, seeing the effects that changes in the atmosphere can have. These data models can weed out the randomness and chance that are associated with older climate models.
“Now we can truly do climate studies because now we have observations to precisely say how weather trends have changed and are changing,” says Suresh Vannan, Project Manager, NASA’s Physical Oceanography Archive Center at the jet propulsion laboratory in southern California
“When you are trying to develop long-term environmental records, including climate records, consistent measurement is incredibly valuable,” says Kevin Murphy, NASA’s Chief Science Data Officer. “It’s irreplaceable data.”
US officials estimate that the store of data regarding climate-related information will grow from 83 petabytes today to more than 650 petabytes by the next decade. One petabyte is equal to 1,000,000 GBs.
And scientists are turning towards AI for help in analysing and sorting this huge store of data. NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are already working with Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud and Microsoft to move their huge stores of data to the cloud, while investments are being made to harness the power of the new generation of AI to design newer climate models based on the newer data.
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