26 February, 2019

A new Centre for Doctoral Training, involving researchers from British Antarctic Survey, will develop Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques to address critical environmental challenges.

Climate change and environmental hazards pose some of the greatest risks for society in the 21st century. In addition, datasets are bigger and more complex than ever due to advances in monitoring technologies and improvements in data storage and analysis.

Data science and AI offer huge potential to transform our ability to understand, monitor and predict environmental risks. Funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the Centre for Doctoral Training in Application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to the study of Environmental Risks (AI4ER) is one of 16 new Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs).

A collaboration between the University of Cambridge and the British Antarctic Survey, the Centre builds on existing research activity involving the application of AI to environmental science problems. One such example is supporting marine conservation through the use of sophisticated image processing techniques to identify whales in high-resolution satellite imagery.

Students will spend their first year following a taught Masters course on AI, machine learning and big data analytics with an emphasis on application to climate change, natural catastrophes, and resource security, before embarking on a PhD research project.

The new Centre brings computer scientists, mathematicians and engineers together with geo- and environmental scientists to train the next generation of leaders in environmental data science. They will be equipped to apply AI to ever-increasing environmental data in order to address the risks we face.

Dr Emily Shuckburgh, Co-Director and Head of Data Science Group at British Antarctic Survey, says:

“Environmental science is a field which by its very nature relies on the collection and interrogation of large and diverse datasets. This new centre will help train the next generation of leaders in the application of AI to pressing global issues.”

Climate modeller Dr Scott Hosking from British Antarctic Survey, says:

“The new Centre is an absolute game-changer for Cambridge and the whole environmental science community. As our computer models become ever more complex, and the size of our datasets increases year-on-year, applying leading-edge AI methods promises to help tackle some of the greatest challenges facing society. With the support from global industry leaders, including Google DeepMind and Microsoft, our PhD students will go on to be the environmental leaders of the future.”

The first cohort of PhD students will start their studies in October 2019.

The new Centre is part of an overall £200 million funding announcement, which will support more than 1000 new research and business leaders in AI across the UK.

Find out more about the centre here.

Applications for studentships are now open. The deadline for applications is 31st March 2019. Find out more here.