Super computer analyzes environmental data across planet

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A powerful new supercomputer, installed on England’s south coast, is using artificial intelligence to crunch environmental data on our planet, telling scientists how it’s changing.

The Massive GPU cluster for Earth Observation – or “MAGEO”, recently completed a project estimating concentrations of oxygen-generating chlorophyll, performing sixteen months of experiments in just ten days.

MAGEO was recently installed at Plymouth Marine Laboratory on England’s south coast.

The incredibly powerful computer is applying artificial intelligence algorithms to Earth observation data, from research on wildfires and oil spills, to microplastic detection and habitat mapping.

“Where we’ve taken a look at a very small area, we can take that to a global level if we’re using artificial intelligence,” explains data scientist Stephen Goult. “It makes it really efficient, but also provides us with really, really highly accurate interpretations of some of these images and some of the data.”

As part of his own research, Goult has been training artificial intelligence to look for harmful green algal blooms on blue water bodies.

With more than 200,000 graphics processing unit (GPU) cores, 100 times more than in a modern gaming PC, the supercomputer can run a huge number of simultaneous simulations.

MAGEO recently completed a project that used satellite imagery to estimate concentrations of oxygen-generating chlorophyll.

The team has other plans. They’re currently developing a cloud classification system that will automatically detect clouds to help increase the usefulness of satellite imagery.

During England’s first coronavirus lockdown, MAGEO also contributed to COVID-19 medical research, becoming part of a web of computers seeking to understand SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 and develop new therapies.

By using AI, the researchers hope to tease out changes, trends and anomalies far easier and faster than by traditional analysis.

The team believes that by combining Earth observation data and deep learning A.I. there’s the potential to address many environmental challenges.

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