Science and technology

Finnish doctoral researcher Jaakko Ahola has developed a groundbreaking method to enhance climate change predictions using artificial intelligence. His work focuses on improving the accuracy of cloud phenomena simulations, a key factor in understanding and forecasting climate change.

Ahola, who conducted his research at the Finnish Meteorological Institute, has significantly advanced the institute's numerical cloud model.

His improvements allow for more precise simulation of phenomena within clouds, such as the formation of rain and ice crystals. This not only aids in comprehending the role of clouds and various particles in the climate system but also marks a step toward better climate change forecasts.

"Through our enhanced cloud model, we've demonstrated that it can generate more realistic simulations than previous generations," Ahola explains. "The refined model delves into details like how ice crystals or sea salt lifted by the wind can influence cloud longevity. This, in turn, affects the overall cloud cover, which plays a crucial role in Earth's reflectivity – determining how much sunlight is reflected back into space or trapped by the planet."

Although the immediate application to weather forecasting is limited due to the model's computational intensity, Ahola is optimistic about future improvements in computing power enabling its use for more accurate weather predictions.

The research employs an advanced cloud model, far more detailed than the coarse resolution of global climate models. "Think of it as enhancing the picture quality of a camera," Ahola analogizes. By refining the portrayal of clouds in these broader models, the research achieves a level of detail akin to upgrading from early mobile phone camera quality to high-definition clarity.

To achieve this enhancement, Ahola and his team employed artificial intelligence. They created machine-learning models or 'surrogate models' based on a high-resolution cloud model. "These surrogate models can replicate the results of the original cloud model but much faster, enabling more precise climate simulations, especially regarding cloud properties," Ahola adds.

This advancement promises a new era in climate change forecasting, offering more accurate predictions by better understanding cloud dynamics and their impact on the Earth's climate. Ahola's research, a blend of climate science and AI, paves the way for significant progress in climate modeling and prediction, a crucial tool in addressing the challenges of climate change.