Can AI return an algae-plagued lake its azure past?

Dec 18, 2018, 7:37 AM EST
(Source: Josh Steinitz/flickr)
(Source: Josh Steinitz/flickr)

Guatemala’s Lake Atitlan, blessed with enviable azure aesthetics, fell victim to algae invasion in 2009 and has since been battling the scourge that threatens its ecosystems. The contamination of lake with toxic cyanobacteria has implications not only for health but also the local economy that thrives on tourists drawn to the place.

Any effort to stop contamination would be expensive and requires financial assistance for its sustenance, reports Global Press Journal. And this is where AI comes to the rescue.

Africa Flores, a research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, this week received a National Geographic grant in Washington D.C. to develop artificial intelligence programs for environmental preservation and he has plans in place to weaponize the technology against algal bloom, writes National Geographic.

Flores, in collaboration with others, has been tracking the algal blooms every year since 2009, a data that would be handy in creating an AI system that can predict when and where algae is likely to flourish in the lake. A prior knowledge can help local authorities identify the exact sources, such as origin points of runoffs or untreated sewage causing blooms and take proactive measures.