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Director’s View

By Johan de Villiers

Welcome to our third eZine edition for 2023! We have certainly seen some record rainfall and cold temperatures in the country over the last couple of weeks, which made me think how machine learning and AI could potentially be the silver bullet we need to help solve the climate crisis. It is worthwhile to have a quick look back at the global meteorological events in the last 6 months , as we are very close to breaching the 1.5 deg Celsius increase in global temperatures as set by the Paris Agreement in 2016.

Potential of Artificial Intelligence as a Mitigative Tool

Recent data from the United Nations underscores an alarming uptick in extreme weather phenomena over the past 30 years. Contributing to the exacerbation of these events, climate change acts as a significant amplifier. However, amidst this challenging backdrop, advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) offer a beacon of hope, promising more accurate predictive measures and potential mitigation strategies.

January 2023 The year commenced with the United States experiencing its sixth-warmest January on record, averaging a temperature of 35.2°F. This anomaly can be attributed to a dominant jet stream that channeled warmer Pacific air across the nation, complemented by a high-pressure system that directed storms westward. It is imperative to note that anthropogenic climate change further accentuated these elevated temperatures. Furthermore, January 2023 was marked as the third-wettest on record, with California, already grappling with drought conditions, witnessing unprecedented rainfall. The Midwest and the Southern U.S. regions, concurrently, reported a surge in tornado activities, with meteorologists attributing the conducive conditions to the anomalous warmth.

The Role of AI in Weather Forecasting: AI-driven meteorological models can analyze vast datasets far more quickly and comprehensively than traditional models. This not only facilitates the prediction of extreme weather conditions with enhanced accuracy but also provides valuable insights into the evolving patterns and potential causative factors. By leveraging machine learning, these models continuously refine themselves, offering increasingly precise forecasts as more data becomes available.

February 2023 was punctuated by a series of meteorological incongruities, ranging from tornadoes to unexpected snowfall. The month began with an ice storm engulfing regions like Texas and the Midwest, juxtaposed with unusually warm temperatures in other areas, notably Southern California.

March 2023 Cyclone Freddy dominated headlines. Originating from the coast of northwest Australia and traversing the Southern Indian Ocean from east to west, it's noteworthy for being one of the only four storms in recorded history to undertake such a journey. The cyclone wreaked havoc in Madagascar and Mozambique, resulting in significant loss of life and infrastructure.

Simultaneously, California's atmospheric conditions facilitated the formation of a "bomb cyclone," leading to power outages and weather-related casualties. The month also saw tornadoes wreaking havoc in the Southern U.S., underlining the escalating frequency and intensity of such events.

April 2023 The following month observed a severe storm system affecting the Midwest, South, and mid-Atlantic, resulting in numerous casualties. Concurrently, heatwaves in Asia and the Mediterranean highlighted the global nature of climatic anomalies.

AI's Potential in Climate Mitigation: Apart from predictive capabilities, AI can aid in understanding the broader impacts of climate change. By modeling global climate systems, AI can elucidate potential future scenarios based on current trends, guiding policymakers in crafting informed, proactive strategies. Furthermore, AI can optimize resource allocation during disasters, ensuring timely and efficient responses.

May 2023 As summer approached, the proliferation of wildfires, typhoons, and cyclones painted a grim picture. Canadian wildfires, particularly virulent for the time of year, reduced global air quality. Cyclone Mocha's devastating effects were felt strongly in Myanmar and Pakistan. Typhoon Mawar, meanwhile, posed significant challenges for Guam.

June 2023 June began with the repercussions of Canadian wildfires impacting U.S. air quality. India grappled with a potent heatwave, exacerbating power and healthcare challenges. The month also witnessed tornadoes in Mississippi and the formation of an early tropical storm, Bret, in the Atlantic Ocean.

July 2023 The first week of July set global heat records, underscoring the escalating challenges posed by climate change. India's monsoon season, amplified by climate change, led to significant flooding. Concurrently, Canadian wildfires continued their destructive path.

In summation, while the global community faces unprecedented challenges due to extreme weather events and climate change, the integration of Artificial Intelligence in meteorological and climatic research offers a promising avenue for both understanding and potentially mitigating these challenges.

With that, thank you for your continued support of First Technology, Western Cape.

Warm Regards

Johan de Villiers


First Technology Western Cape

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