Today we’re announcing a $5 million grant and Google.org Fellowship to Woodwell Climate Research Center to help them deploy satellite imagery and AI technology to track permafrost thaw in near real-time. Faster insights about permafrost’s contribution to global warming will not only help inform international climate policy, it will help the 5 million people currently living in the Arctic adapt to their quickly changing landscape and reduce costs associated with infrastructure damage (estimated to be in the billions).
Previously, permafrost analysis could take years — even decades — and currently, we only have one-time snapshots of past permafrost thaw. But new AI models can help scientists monitor permafrost thaw monthly by analyzing massive amounts of satellite imagery data to produce seasonal forecasts.
“Speeding up data analysis in a rapidly shifting global climate is a game changer,” says Dr. Anna Liljedahl, one of the lead scientists working on the project at Woodwell. “New geospatial projects like the one we’ll build together can help us better understand permafrost landscapes and the real-time impact of weather changes and extreme weather events.”