Alibaba Reveals AI-based Tool That Predicts The Weather up to Six Hours in Advance

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Alibaba Reveals AI-based Tool That Predicts The Weather up to Six Hours in Advance

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Imagine going out for a run, but an unexpected rain hits, spoiling the fun.

Alibaba Group revealed a new weather forecasting platform that can predict the weather up to six hours in advance.

The AI-based nowcasting system, unveiled at the company’s annual Apsara Conference in Hangzhou on Friday, relies on a machine-learning model trained on large datasets of radar imagery and meteorological satellite images.

The system was developed by Alibaba’s DAMO Academy and the National Meteorological Center in China. By analyzing past weather data, it can forecast rainfall and severe weather conditions.

This is a significant improvement compared to competing models, which can normally see only up to two to three hours ahead, according to DAMO Academy.

Advancing Weather Forecasts

Traditional weather forecasting methods, which are widely used by state-run observatories, rely on a physics-based model that requires hours to run forecasting data and is less timely.

In comparison, Alibaba’s AI-based model takes only a few minutes to compute a forecast. Since the platform can quickly update the results, the forecasting result is “highly accurate and near real-time,” according to a statement from Alibaba Cloud.

“Using our cutting-edge algorithms and cloud technologies, we have significantly advanced our nowcasting capabilities in China,” said Rong Jin, head of the Machine Intelligence Lab at DAMO Academy.

Enhancing Businesses Operations

Weather forecasts are essential for industries like agriculture, aviation, delivery and outdoor events and help businesses make decisions.

For example, delivery service platforms can send out an alert to couriers to suggest rescheduling routes to avoid being hit by a downpour. For farmers, a timely weather prediction can help them better decide when to irrigate and when to fertilize their crops.

“We aim to help businesses meet their climate-related challenges and mitigate the risks of unpredictable weather,” Jin said.

The announcement is the latest in Alibaba’s efforts to leverage technology to gain climate insights that can be used to support industry.

Alibaba Cloud revealed its Internet of Things system this year, providing data about environmental conditions that help farmers increase yields in China.

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