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Unlocking new horizons in geospatial AI

In a significant step towards making advanced geospatial AI technology available to everyone, IBM and NASA have joined forces to release the largest open-source geospatial AI foundation model on Hugging Face, a well-known platform for transformer models. This collaboration aims to revolutionize climate science, accelerate environmental discoveries, and provide researchers with new tools to understand and address all the challenges posed by climate change on our planet.

Climate change has brought a pressing need for rapid and precise analysis of Earth's landscape changes. To fulfill this need, IBM and NASA embarked on a collaborative journey six months ago, striving to develop an AI model capable of efficiently analyzing satellite images. This ambitious endeavor was driven by the desire to make a staggering 250,000 terabytes of NASA's mission data more accessible and useful for scientific insights.

Satellite data plays a key role in climate science, offering a comprehensive view of Earth's systems, including weather patterns, atmospheric composition, and land use changes. However, the sheer volume of data generated by modern satellites presents a formidable challenge. The decision to create an AI foundation model specifically designed for geospatial data is a testament to the increasing significance of AI in enhancing data analysis and scientific understanding.

This shared vision has now culminated in the release of the geospatial AI foundation model on Hugging Face. As the largest geospatial model hosted on this platform, the model boasts an impressive capability to analyze geospatial data up to four times faster than state-of-the-art deep learning models, while using just half the labeled data. The model is also anticipated to be integrated into IBM's AI and data platform, watsonx, offering commercial applications through the IBM Environmental Intelligence Suite (EIS) in the near future.

Jeff Boudier, head of product and growth at Hugging Face, emphasized the significance of open-source AI in advancing technology for the benefit of all. He stated, "AI remains a science-driven field, and science can only progress through information sharing and collaboration. This is why open-source AI and the open release of models and datasets are so fundamental to the continued progress of AI, and making sure the technology will benefit as many people as possible."

IBM's foundation model holds the potential to transform how observational data is analyzed, enabling a better understanding of our planet's dynamics. The model has already been configured to map the extent of past floods and wildfires in the United States, crucial for predicting future areas of risk. Furthermore, the model's versatility makes it adaptable for various tasks, such as tracking deforestation, predicting crop yields, or monitoring greenhouse gases.

The collaborative effort between IBM and NASA exemplifies the power of synergy in the scientific community. By sharing resources and expertise, both organizations have paved the way for future innovations. Researchers from both organizations, along with Clark University, are working on adapting the model for diverse applications, including time-series segmentation and similarity research.

IBM's commitment to open-source initiatives reflects its dedication to making AI accessible to a broader audience. This venture aligns with NASA's decade-long Open-Source Science Initiative, aimed at fostering an inclusive and collaborative scientific community. As we step into NASA's Year of Open Science, we celebrate the potential of open data sharing to drive discoveries, innovations, and solutions that contribute to a more sustainable and resilient planet.

The collaboration between IBM and NASA not only underscores the vital role of AI in addressing complex global challenges but also highlights the transformative potential of open-source technology. With the release of this groundbreaking geospatial AI foundation model, the scientific community is poised to unlock new horizons in understanding our planet's intricate dynamics and accelerating climate-related discoveries. Through collective efforts and open collaboration, we take a significant step forward in shaping a brighter future for Earth and all its inhabitants.