A top weather official said that India is testing artificial intelligence (AI) to construct climate models to improve weather forecasting as severe rains, floods, and droughts spread over the huge country.
Global warming has caused more intense confrontations of weather systems in India in recent years, boosting extreme weather events that have killed over 3,000 people this year, according to the independent Centre for Science and Environment. Weather forecasting agencies throughout the world are focusing on AI, which can reduce costs and improve speed, and which the Met Office claims might "revolutionize" weather forecasting, with a recent Google-funded model outperforming traditional approaches.
Accurate weather forecasting is especially important in India, which has 1.4 billion people, many of whom are underprivileged, and is the world's second-largest producer of rice, wheat, and sugar.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecasts the weather using mathematical models and supercomputers. Using AI in conjunction with a larger observation network could result in higher-quality forecast data at a reduced cost. According to K.S. Hosalikar, head of climate research and services at IMD, the department expects the AI-based climate models and advisories it is developing to help improve forecasts.
According to Hosalikar, the weather service has utilized AI to issue public notifications about heat waves and diseases like malaria. He stated that the company intends to expand its weather observatories, delivering data down to the village level and potentially offering higher-resolution data for forecasts.
The government announced on Thursday that it intends to develop weather and climate forecasts by mixing artificial intelligence into traditional models, and that it has established a facility to test the notion through workshops and conferences.
"An AI model does not require the high cost of running a supercomputer; you can even run it from a good quality desktop," said Saurabh Rathore, an assistant professor at the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi.
Experts agree that better data is also required to make the most of AI.
"Without having high-resolution data in space and time, no AI model for location-specific magnification of existing model forecasts is feasible," Parthasarathi Mukhopadhyay, a climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, explained.