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Superfast Microsoft AI is first to predict air pollution for the whole world

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2024-06-05 13:30:04

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An artificial-intelligence (AI) model developed by Microsoft can accurately forecast weather and air pollution for the whole world — and it does it in less than a minute.

The model, called Aurora, is one of a slew of AI weather-forecasting tools being developed by tech giants, including GraphCast from Google DeepMind in London and FourCastNet from Nvidia, based in Santa Clara, California. But Aurora’s ability to quickly predict air pollution globally is pioneering, say researchers.

“This, for me, is the first big step in a journey of atmospheric chemistry and machine learning,” says machine-learning researcher Matthew Chantry at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) in Reading, UK.

Conventional weather forecasting uses mathematical models of physical processes in the atmosphere, land and sea. To predict air-pollution levels, researchers have previously used machine learning along with conventional mathematical models, says Chantry. Aurora seems to be the first entirely AI model to to generate a global pollution forecast — which is a much more complex task than weather forecasting, says Chantry.

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