A collaboration has been established between the national weather forecasting platform Met Eireann and the University College Dublin (UCD) School of Mathematics and Statistics, alongside the college’s Earth Institute, to leverage the continually evolving capabilities of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The growing fascination with AI, shown by the integration of AI chat models such as ChatGPT into everyday lives, has prompted Met Eireann to embark on this 5-year joint venture.

This partnership is designed to foster a more integrated approach to severe weather events and the study of Ireland’s climate, thereby bridging the gap between research and practical application.

The annual €1 million investments will see weather chiefs capitalising on AI as an additional tool in their arsenal, to improve weather predictions for the country.
Research conducted last year unveiled clear evidence of human-induced climate change in this country, elucidating the need for more effective strategies to not only predict the weather but understand current trends further.

The new feature will be akin to that on the Weather Observations Website, where AI will gather data posted about the weather across various social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram across the country. Enabling Met Eireann to derive conclusive insights about current weather patterns.

In October, Met Eireann activated a weather radar system at Shannon Airport. This was the first step in a plan to triple the number of weather radars from two to six. This is another initiative that hopes to improve the precision of weather forecasting in Ireland.

Professor Helen Roche, the interim Vice-President for research, impact, and innovation at UCD, stated that the university will aid in the construction of AI-based models to formulate accurate weather forecasting capabilities and make Ireland “more resilient to weather and climate changes”.

The Director of Met Eireann, Eoin Moran, claims the venture is not only “innovative and first-of-its-kind” but that it also puts Met Eireann at the forefront of technological developments which will “shape national meteorological services for years to come”.

Moran is also “excited by the prospect of working closely with UCD and of the potential opportunities this could lead to in the responsible use of AI for good”.

Other companies are taking a similar approach to weather forecasting, with Google-owned company DeepMind stating that their AI model GraphCast can make weather predictions for up to 10 days in advance, in less than a single minute.

Stephen Doran – Reporter