Artificial Intelligence - A Game Changer for Ocean Conservation?

According to a report published earlier this month, we have 12 years to prevent the planet’s temperature from rising more than 1.5°C. If we fail to make radical changes now by 2030 we’re reported to face an irreversible climate catastrophe, which will inevitably harm natural, managed and human systems, including the ocean.  

The chemistry of the oceans is changing more rapidly than at any time in perhaps the last 300 million years, as the water absorbs greenhouse gases caused by human activity. The resulting ocean acidification and warming are leading to unprecedented damage.  

It is apparent that rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes across all aspects of society are necessary. One of the key solutions to solving one of the largest problems in human history will inevitably be technology.Fortunately, there are many organisations driving this initiative forward.  

Critical Software have developed Oversee Environmental Monitoring and Protection, an information system that provides support for decision-makers tasked with preventing, detecting and responding to pollution incidents at sea. Oversee is capable of monitoring the geographic parameters of off-shore infrastructures by integrating sensing platforms such as in-situ buoys, autonomous vehicles and remote-sensing satellite technologies to present a real-time, integrated picture of maritime environmental measures. 

In partnership with Microsoft, The Nature Conservancy has combined traditional, academic research with cloud and AI technologies to map, in high resolution, ocean wealth. By evaluating the economic value of ocean ecosystem services- such as carbon storage and fishing activity- it will make better conservation and planning decisions possible. 

Earlier this year IBM announced a new AI-power microscope capable of detecting plankton’s behaviour, to predict the health of the environment. In a few years, IBM anticipates that these small autonomous AI microscopes will be networked in the cloud and deployed around the world, continually collecting information that will provide tremendous insight into the health and operation of the ocean’s complex ecosystem.  

There’s no question that improving the health of our ocean and making significant steps to reduce global warming will be vital for human survival. There is no silver bullet to solving these complex issues but there’s a chance, that the adoption and application of technologies such as AI, could be the big break we all need. 

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