SEEDS: Google’s AI Model Sprouts Accurate, Affordable Weather Forecasts

Traditionally, weather prediction has been a guessing game for extreme events like hurricanes and heat waves. While sunshine and mild temperatures are easy to forecast, these unpredictable storms can devastate communities. Accurate weather forecasts are crucial for preparation, and that’s where SEEDS comes in.

SEEDS, or Scalable Ensemble Envelope Diffusion Sampler, is Google’s innovative AI model that utilizes machine learning to revolutionize weather prediction. Inspired by large language models, SEEDS tackles the limitations of traditional physics-based models.

SEEDS Overcomes Limitations in Weather Prediction

Traditional weather prediction methods rely on complex physics-based models that analyze various atmospheric measurements like temperature, pressure, humidity, and wind speed. These models then generate multiple forecasts (ensembles) to account for potential variations in these measurements, providing a range of possible future weather states. However, these traditional methods have two major limitations:

  • Computational Cost: Creating a sufficient number of ensembles to accurately predict rare, extreme weather events like hurricanes or heat waves requires a tremendous amount of computational power. This can be very expensive for weather services, especially those in regions with limited resources.
  • Error Accumulation: Even with a large number of ensembles, traditional weather prediction models are susceptible to errors. Small, unforeseen changes in the initial atmospheric conditions can be magnified over time, leading to significant inaccuracies in the final forecast. The more complex the weather event, and the further into the future the prediction is made, the greater the potential for error.

Generating More Ensembles, Predicting Extremes Better


SEEDS operates similarly to large language models like ChatGPT. However, instead of processing text, SEEDS ingests weather data. This allows SEEDS to generate a vast number of weather forecast ensembles quickly and cheaply. This surpasses the limitations of traditional methods, allowing for a more comprehensive analysis of potential weather scenarios.

The model focuses on identifying relationships between key atmospheric measurements, such as potential energy and sea level pressure. By analyzing these relationships, SEEDS can extrapolate a significant number of ensembles from just a few initial forecasts. This translates to a more nuanced picture of potential weather outcomes, particularly for rare and extreme events.

Hindsight on the 2022 European Heatwave

To illustrate SEEDS’ effectiveness, Google researchers tested it on the infamous 2022 European heatwave. In a harrowing display of the limitations of traditional weather forecasting, just seven days before the scorching event, conventional forecasting models offered no warning. Even ensembles with less than 100 predictions, a number that already pushes the capabilities of traditional methods, failed to anticipate the heatwave’s severity. This lack of foresight could have had devastating consequences, as communities were left unprepared for the record-breaking temperatures.

In contrast, SEEDS, with its ability to generate a much higher number of ensembles, successfully predicted the possibility of a heatwave. This demonstrates the model’s potential to provide crucial lead time for communities to prepare for extreme weather events.

The Future of Weather Prediction: Affordable Accuracy with SEEDS

Beyond its superior predictive capabilities, SEEDS boasts significant cost advantages. Running the model is significantly cheaper than traditional methods due to its efficient use of computational resources. This translates to a more affordable and accessible weather prediction solution, particularly for regions with limited resources.

While SEEDS is still under development, its potential to revolutionize weather forecasting is undeniable. With its ability to generate a high number of accurate ensembles at a lower cost, it offers a glimpse into a future where communities can effectively prepare for even the most extreme weather events, potentially saving lives and minimizing damage.