As concerns about rising sea levels and the accelerating pace of glacial melting grow, the application of AI in monitoring icebergs offers a beacon of hope for improved prediction and mitigation strategies.

In a groundbreaking effort to enhance our understanding of climate change impacts, scientists are utilising Artificial Intelligence (AI) to map and track colossal icebergs from space.

The research was led by Dr. Anne Braakmann-Folgmann who was doing her doctoral research at the Centre for Polar Observation and Monitoring at the University of Leeds.

The study was featured in the Cryosphere journal in November this year. It showcases the potential of machine learning in the live monitoring of distant and hard-to-reach regions.

The AI can accomplish this task within one-hundredth of a second, a speed markedly superior to manual delineation.

Moreover, it exhibits a level of accuracy surpassing that of current automated systems, which frequently encounter challenges in discerning icebergs from other elements in the images.

This cutting-edge technology, developed by a team of researchers, promises to revolutionise our ability to monitor these mammoth structures and their movements in near-real-time.

Traditionally, tracking icebergs has been a challenging task due to their vast size and remote locations. However, this new approach employs satellite imagery and advanced AI algorithms to analyse and interpret the dynamic nature of these icy giants.

The project is a collaborative effort between leading scientists, engineers, and AI experts, aiming to provide crucial insights into the changing polar landscapes.

"With this new neural network, it's possible to get out [calculate] the iceberg surface area. And when we apply it to several images of the same iceberg, we can see how the iceberg area shrinks and how this iceberg is breaking apart," said Braakmann-Folgmann, who is now working at the University of Tromsø – the Arctic University of Norway.

The AI system, equipped with machine learning capabilities, is designed to detect and track individual icebergs by analysing satellite imagery captured from space.

The technology can differentiate between icebergs and surrounding ice formations, allowing for precise monitoring of their movements, size changes, and potential impacts on sea levels.

In conducting the research, she utilised satellite imagery from the European Space Agency (ESA) and employed an AI algorithm to discern icebergs, even in adverse environmental conditions.

Crucially, the innovative AI system holds promise in delivering more comprehensive data regarding the contours and dimensions of icebergs, surpassing the capabilities of existing mapping services.

This breakthrough could lead to the establishment of operational services that furnish routine, automated updates on the outlines of icebergs.

Braakmann-Folgmann shared: "I think it would be the logical next step to really automate the whole chain that's needed for this; downloading the images, applying the artificial intelligence to get the iceberg outline and then combining it also with the thickness measurements to get the freshwater flux of icebergs along their trajectory, completely automatically. I think that would be the dream."

The system's ability to operate from space provides a unique advantage, as it can cover vast expanses of polar regions, including areas that are challenging to access by traditional means.

This opens up new avenues for monitoring icebergs in real-time and contributes to a more comprehensive understanding of climate-related phenomena.

As concerns about rising sea levels and the accelerating pace of glacial melting grow, the application of AI in monitoring icebergs offers a beacon of hope for improved prediction and mitigation strategies.

This innovative use of technology exemplifies the role AI can play in advancing scientific knowledge and addressing pressing global issues.

With this AI-driven monitoring system in place, researchers are optimistic about the potential for enhanced understanding and early-warning systems, ultimately contributing to more effective climate change mitigation efforts on a global scale.

As the project continues to evolve, it marks a significant step towards harnessing technology to safeguard our planet's future in the face of a changing climate.