Can AI Predict Natural Disasters?

Natural disasters cause thousands of deaths and hundreds of billions of dollars in property damage every year. Finding a way to reduce the impact of these catastrophes to save lives and protect infrastructure has puzzled experts for decades. However, detecting natural disasters with artificial intelligence (AI) is a promising way forward. Using AI for disaster management can save communities, lives and livelihoods.

Using AI to Predict Natural Disasters

As AI improves, researchers have begun experimenting with using AI systems in natural disaster detection. Research shows that artificial intelligence can analyze mountains of information to track the patterns and intensity of weather phenomena.

How Does It Work?

People have used AI to assist industries ranging from healthcare to customer service for years, and the same principles apply when using this technology to predict natural disasters. Scientists provide AI systems with comprehensive and high-quality datasets based on previous events. The AI then uses these datasets with real-time seismic data, geographical information and satellite imagery to discover patterns.

What Natural Disasters Can AI Predict?

Currently, AI can predict four types of natural disasters, including:

  • Earthquakes: Researchers can feed AI systems information from seismic imaging to train them. The AI analyzes the data to learn about the patterns of various earthquakes and can then predict where an earthquake and aftershock might hit.
  • Volcanic eruptions: When researchers provide AI with seismic and geographical information, they can get accurate predictions of future volcanic eruptions.
  • Hurricanes and tornadoes: AI systems monitor satellite imagery to predict the course of a hurricane or tornado. The technology can also determine the force of the storm.

The Future of AI Predicting Natural Disasters

While the future of AI predicting natural disasters is exciting, these systems do have their limitations. Researchers are still trying to develop a way to predict flooding with AI by using rainfall records and flood simulations. Floods and other hydrological events affect more people globally than other natural disasters, but AI is still far from preventing flood-related emergencies.

AI systems also function on datasets from past natural disasters. As climate change accelerates, the trends and intensity of earthquakes, floods and hurricanes are also changing. Until researchers can factor climate change into weather-predicting AI, the long-term accuracy of these systems remains uncertain.

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