15 June 2022

CIC member and Chief Scientist at The Alan Turing Institute calls for more robust measurements of climate risk

Dr. Claire Huck

By Dr. Claire Huck

CIC member and Chief Scientist at The Alan Turing Institute calls for more robust measurements of climate risk

Earlier this year for Earth Day, Iggy Bassi and Professor Mark Girolami discuss the importance of investing in knowledge. Below, we share details of a subsequent interview with Professor Mark and Dr. Claire Huck.

Following its launch in October 2021, I have been speaking with members of Cervest’s Climate Intelligence Council (CIC) to learn more about their professional accomplishments, their passion for the environment, and their commitment to advancing adaptation with our changing climate. In this edition, I’m speaking to Professor Mark Girolami, data-centric engineering pioneer and Chief Scientist at The Alan Turing Institute.

Before his appointment as Chief Scientist, Professor Girolami led the institute’s data-centric engineering programme (DCE), growing it into a multi-million pound global innovation enterprise that delivered several groundbreaking projects centered on artificial intelligence. In 2019, he was presented the Sir Kirby Laing Professorship of Civil Engineering at Cambridge University, where he also holds the Royal Academy of Engineering Research Chair in Data Centric Engineering. Before moving to Cambridge, Mark was Chair of Statistics in the Department of Mathematics at Imperial College London.

In our discussion, Mark talks about his ambitious work using AI and data science to tackle the effects of climate change, his belief that more robust measures are needed to fully understand climate risk, and his hopes of contributing his statistical and machine learning expertise to the CIC.

Can you share with us what you are working on in the climate space right now?

At The Alan Turing Institute we are committed to tackling climate change and its impacts through the development and application of data science and AI. We have a number of projects underway to explore how machine learning and data science can be part of the solution to climate change, whether this is tackling the effects of climate change on human health, agriculture and the built environment or on national security and extreme weather events.

We are also applying our research in digital twin technology to problems arising from climate change. Projects that are underway include using digital twin technology to support energy efficient built environments, to understand arctic sea ice loss, and to improve environmental monitoring to help understand our changing planet.

From your perspective, what should organizations be doing today? What actions should be taken to mitigate climate risk?

Climate change is a global challenge which requires collective effort to solve. Most organizations acknowledge the importance of alleviating climate risk, however don’t act on it as a priority. Across organizations, more needs to be done to instill a sense of urgency and enable action to mitigate climate risk. Enabling innovation is key to providing the novel ideas and technologies required to inform climate mitigation. Organizations can encourage this by facilitating multidisciplinary and collaborative working, where innovative ideas are most potent.

Why do you believe that Climate Intelligence is so critical to the climate risk debate?

Climate Intelligence helps inform our mitigation strategies for climate change by allowing the use of extensive data on our natural and built environment to power insights for climate mitigation and adaptation. To understand climate risk, we first need to have robust methods to measure it. Accelerating the collection, processing and analysis of climate data will be crucial.

Climate Intelligence will empower organizations and individuals across the public and private sectors to make better informed decisions on climate risks and opportunities. In the words of the great Victorian natural philosopher Baron Kelvin of Largs “If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.”

You're one of the first members of the Cervest Climate Intelligence Council. What led you to join?

Climate change affects all of us and is an issue that sits among my top priorities. By joining the council I hope to contribute my specific expertise in the statistical sciences and machine learning alongside that of others to help create opportunities to have an impact for all, directly aligning with Cervest’s mission to empower everyone to adapt with climate change and build a resilient future for our planet.

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