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4 ways AI can help with climate change, from detecting methane to preventing fires

๐ŸŒˆ Abstract

The article discusses four ways that artificial intelligence (AI) can help address climate change, including detecting methane emissions, preventing forest fires, and assisting in green technology mining.

๐Ÿ™‹ Q&A

[01] Using AI to detect planet-heating methane

1. How is AI being used to detect methane emissions?

  • Researchers and companies are using AI to interpret satellite images and track global methane emissions on a daily basis.
  • Before the use of AI, there was limited understanding of the sources of methane emissions. Now, AI can detect dozens of large methane leaks and releases every week and thousands per year.
  • The AI-powered data is being used by the UN to verify companies' reports on methane emissions, and governments are implementing new methane regulations.
  • Targeting methane emissions through AI is seen as a strategic way to quickly impact the curve of global warming, as methane is a highly potent greenhouse gas.

[02] Using AI for early detection of forest fires

1. How is AI being used to detect forest fires early?

  • A Berlin-based startup, Dryad, is using AI-powered sensors in forests to detect the specific gases released when organic material burns, allowing them to identify small fires in the smoldering stage before they spread into megafires.
  • The sensor "noses" can detect fires within 30 minutes, making it easier to extinguish them while still small.
  • Dryad has 50 sensor installations across the Middle East and California.

[03] Using AI to prevent new wildfires

1. How is AI being used to assist in controlled burns to prevent wildfires?

  • Controlled burns outside of fire season are used to remove excess brush and vegetation that can fuel wildfires.
  • Researchers at the University of Southern California have developed an "intelligent assistant" using AI that can access data and models to help burn managers decide where and when to conduct safe controlled burns.
  • The AI assistant can provide information about the topography, vegetation, weather patterns, and recommend potential burn models to help make controlled burns more safe and plentiful.
  • The first prototypes of these AI assistants are planned to be deployed in the coming months.

[04] Using AI in green tech mining

1. How is AI being used to assist in mining for critical minerals needed for climate solutions?

  • Governments, researchers, and companies are using AI to explore for critical minerals like cobalt, lithium, and copper, which are in high demand for climate solutions like solar panels and electric vehicles.
  • The U.S. Geological Survey is using AI to analyze data and identify areas in the U.S. with the best potential for mining critical metals, resulting in "dramatic time savings."
  • Companies around the world are using AI to explore for minerals, as it can help minimize uncertainty and save time and money in locating profitable mining areas.
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