Conference 2024: The AI Frontier in Environmental Observation

About our 2024 annual conference

Registration is now open: Reserve your place today

The provisional programme is available below

Our next annual conference will be titled The AI Frontier in Environmental Observation and will take place online on 7th March 2024.


UKEOF conference 2024 graphic

About the conference

Recent advances in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) are beginning to revolutionise many human activities, including environmental observation. AI is increasingly being integrated into environmental monitoring systems to enhance the efficiency, accuracy, and scale of data collection and analysis.

These developments are bringing both tremendous opportunities and formidable challenges for society and organisations, including those with environmental monitoring and observation remits and interests that contribute to the UK Environmental Observation Framework (UKEOF).

The 4th UKEOF conference will discuss current applications of AI in the environmental observation sector, encompassing monitoring and modelling, as well as strategies, ethics, biases, risks and wider considerations associated with the application of AI.

Speakers from across the environmental sector will provide examples of current initiatives that are harnessing AI in environmental observation, discussing the impact on their work and the lessons learnt.

With keynote talks from Professor David Topping (University of Manchester) and Dr. Francesca Mazzi (Brunel University), our conference promises to both inform and inspire. Register now to join us and hear about advances in this field and engage in thought-provoking discussions with researchers, academics and other professionals, covering a wide range of AI-related topics.


To register for the conference, please reserve your place via EventBrite. It's free!

Provisional programme

Timings, talk titles, etc. are subject to change. The final programme will be made available nearer to the event

09:30   Welcome and Introduction to UKEOF and the Conference - Dr Ben Ditchburn (UKEOF chair)

09:45 Opening keynote - Overarching introduction to AI and it’s benefits in the Environmental Sector - Prof. David Topping (University of Manchester)

10:15 SESSION 1 - Speakers will provide examples of current initiatives that our harnessing AI in relation to environment monitoring and a variety of different environmental areas and discuss the impact on their work and lessons learnt.

  • AI for environmental monitoring - Matt Fry (The Alan Turing Institute / UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology)
  • Using AI for data cleansing and quality control - James Finnigan (Environment Agency)
  • Application of AI to images and acoustics - Dr. Jenna Louise Lawson (UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology)

11:00 Break

11:15 - SESSION 2 - Speakers will provide examples of current initiatives that our harnessing AI in relation to environment modelling and a variety of different environmental areas and discuss the impact on their work and lessons learnt.

  • Getting the most out of Digital Twin models - Alberto Arribas (National Oceanography Centre)
  • Farm-scale decision support with Digital Twins - Prof. Paul Harris (Rothamsted Research)
  • Speaker to be confirmed

12:00 Lunch

13:15 Welcome back

13:20 Afternoon keynote - AI and SDGs: Governance and Use Cases - Dr. Francesca Mazzi (Brunel University)

13:50 SESSION 3 - Speakers will provide insight into some of the strategical, ethical and bias issues that may affect AI, and discuss any wider consideration of using AI.

  • Environmental issues associated with AI - Prof. Adrian Friday (Lancaster University)
  • AI impact on observations strategy for weather forecasting - Dr. Jonathan Taylor (Met Office)
  • Grand Challenge and the Stakeholder Mapping work - Dr. Cassandra Gould van Praag (The Alan Turing Institute)

14:35 Panel discussion - We welcome all our speakers back to the ‘floor’ and open up discussions about what we have heard today, and anything else relevant to using AI in the environmental sector.

15:15 Closing remarks - Dr Ben Ditchburn (UKEOF chair)

15:25 Conference ends

Talks and speakers

Details will be added to the page as they are received.

Matt Fry, Environmental Informatics Manager at UKCEH and Senior Research Fellow at Alan Turing Institute

Matt leads a group of scientists, data managers, analysts and software developers working on projects to deliver UKCEH science and data to users. Increasingly data management and analysis includes applications of AI methods. At the Alan Turing Institute Matt is leading projects on Autonomous Systems for Automated Biodiversity Monitoring, development of applications for sensor network optimisation, and digital twins.

Paul Harris, Principal Research Scientist, Rothamsted Research

Paul Harris has been the project lead for the North Wyke Farm Platform, National Bioscience Research Infrastructure since 2017. His research interests include statistical and mathematical model developed and applied to a wide range of processes.

Paul's presentation will describe the methodological progress in the creation of three demonstrator farm Digital Twins informed by the open and globally unique datasets of three instrumented research farms at Rothamsted Research’s campus in Devon UK. Conveniently, the same experimental site has a rich history of agroecosystem model application and development, including process-based hybrids with AI. This dual aspect enables the research farms to be ideally suited to their Digital Twin development for eventual transference of developed concepts and digital structures to real, on-farm Digital Twins.

Francesca Mazzi, Lecturer in AI, Innovation and Law, Brunel University

Dr Francesca Mazzi holds a position as a lecturer in AI, innovation and law at Brunel University London. Previously, she worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oxford, leading the project “AI for SDGs”. She has a Ph.D. on patent and AI in the pharmaceutical sector. She edited the volume “The Ethics of Artificial Intelligence for the Sustainable Development Goals” with Professor Luciano Floridi.

Dr Mazzi's presentation will delve into the connection between AI and SDGs, examining their intersections and defining two basic approaches. Namely, assessing the sustainability of AI itself, and evaluating how AI might influence sustainability goals. The discussion will then shift to the governance challenges surrounding AI, debating the integration of sustainability considerations into AI regulations, with reference to the AI Act. Lastly, the presentation will explore use cases that directly or indirectly affect SDGs, emphasising the complexities of impact assessment in this context.

 Jonathan Taylor, Principal Fellow - Observations, Met Office

Jonathan Taylor is responsible for setting the long term observations strategy for the Met Office that will enable it to deliver its aspirations to advance weather forecasting and improve our understanding and monitoring of climate science. This presentation will explore the impacts and opportunities that AI presents for operational weather forecasting. Weather forecasting requires a detailed knowledge of the environment across the globe and observations are a fundamental input. AI combined with the growth of the Internet of Things offers huge opportunities in utilising complex observations and the potential to link the weather forecasts to their impacts on society.

Future UKEOF conferences

To hear about future events, subscribe to our newsletter mailing list.

Previous UKEOF conferences


Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International

The conference graphics incorporate images sourced from including some that require attribution. We thereby specifically acknowledge the work of Antony Caravaggi, Shyamal, Andrew A. Farke and Chris Huh and we are indebted to all contributors to Graphics by Andrew Sier, UKCEH.