“IBM DeepCurrent is a geophysical fluid dynamics tool that focuses on fluid motion in the earth’s water systems. It simulates the flow of water and corresponding changes in its properties, such as variations in temperature, salinity and nutrient concentrations.”
“And it can also tell us about water flows, water quality, and other environmental parameters by using physical models, machine learning and control theory algorithms, combined with sensor data, in a particular coastal area,” said Emanuele Ragnoli, an IBM Environmental Analytics researcher in Dublin, Ireland.
Galway Bay is a popular coastal area on the west coast of Ireland that’s been eulogized in movies to music, but it’s under threat of pollution, flooding, and other environmental factors. Emanuele’s team is applying IBM DeepCurrent prediction and modelling to study the live dynamics of oceanic flows into the bay, detecting the oceanic flow’s interaction with freshwater discharges, integrating radar imagery of surface currents, and even monitoring the wind-driven currents to offer insights into the ecological planning and economic management of the bay. Now, scientists can see, in a 3-D model, how live weather data will impact everything from tributaries into the bay, to how currents distribute marine nutrients — or contaminants — across the bay. So far, IBM DeepCurrent deployment has shown a 10 to 20 percent error reduction of predicted flows within the bay, relative to past sensor measurements.
“But this is exactly what IBM DeepCurrent does. It provides industry, local government and relevant stakeholders with real-time information to better manage the coastal environment and mitigate anthropogenic impacts,” said Fearghal O’Donncha, IBM Environmental Analytics researcher.
IBM DeepCurrent’s latest effort is its first in fresh water: the IBM Jefferson Project at New York’s Lake George. The “Queen of American Lakes” is threatened by salt, algae, and invasive marine species affecting the fish and vegetation. And IBM DeepCurrent’s role in the joint project with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the FUND for Lake George is to help study the circulation of salt runoff from de-icing nearby roads in the winter.
In October, as part of the European Commission’s Frontier and Emerging Technologies initiative, the team from Ireland will use IBM DeepCurrent to model the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The work will not only help further validate IBM DeepCurrent’s predictive capabilities, but also help continue to account for oil still in the gulf five years after the deadly explosion.