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Neural Network to Weekly Map World’s Water

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Great read from MIT Technology Review on Orbital Insight’s work to map all the water on Earth:

While it’s not a new feat to track the Earth’s water levels, Orbital Insight is approaching the task with a specially trained neural network that labels water pixel by pixel. The team manually sorted through thousands of images to find examples with clearly and accurately marked water, and then trained the neural network with them.

“We basically built … Tinder for Landsat maps: Swipe right if it’s good, swipe left if it’s bad,” CEO James Crawford says of the system the researchers used.

As a result, the neural network is especially good at picking up on what’s water and what’s not, whereas other water-detecting systems might identify the shadows of clouds or mountains as water.

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