Hurricane Idalia and the Hawaii firestorm were the most notable weather disasters in the U.S. in 2023, but they were far from the only ones. In 2023, 25 weather or climate disasters caused at least $1 billion in losses and the deaths of 482 people, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information. In 2024, artificial intelligence should play a bigger role in predicting those events and saving lives, Northeastern University faculty experts predict. “In the next 12 months, we are going to see more and more efforts where data-driven systems and artificial intelligence come together,” says Auroop R. Ganguly, professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of AI4CaS (AI for Climate and Sustainability) focus area within Northeastern’s Institute for Experiential AI.
For years, scientists have been using climate prediction models based largely on the rules of physics and chemistry to forecast weather patterns, Ganguly says. Recently, new hybrid-based models have been developed that also take into account machine learning and other generative AI tools. These models in turn have helped climate scientists create even more accurate and precise systems.