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The research pursued by the ELLIS Unit is at its core motivated by the desire to explore how environmental and climate sciences can profit from machine learning and aartificial intelligence advances to gain a better understanding of Earth dynamic systems. Highlights of this research agenda include fundamental and pioneering work on the evaluation of climate change impacts in the society and the economy. Beyond a purely scientific work, this research will enable the regulatory bodies and policy makers in their decisions and measurements as well as the broader public to get a better grasp.
The ELLIS Unit Jena members – in particular the Co-Directors – complement each other to jointly achieve significant societal and economic impact. On the societal side, Professor Markus Reichstein is part of the German National Committee Future Earth for Sustainability Research by the German Science Foundation, and is chairing the international Knowledge Action Network Extreme Events and Emergent Risks jointly endorsed by global Science organizations from the International Science Council, i.e. World Climate Research Program, Integrated Research on Disaster Risk, Future Earth and WMO´s World Weather Research Programme, and in the Systemic Risk Working group within the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), thus with a broad national and international network on sustainability and climate.
On the economic side, Prof. Dr. Joachim Denzler has a strong track record of engaging with joint industry research project as well as industry spin-offs. Multi-year collaborations with top-tier industrial research labs have resulted in a high number of impactful collaborations, joint publications and joint PhD supervision (including Zeiss, Daimler, Jenoptik, Bosch, Continental, Valeo). Within this ELLIS Unit, these collaborations will be further intensified.
In addition, with European projects (European Commision, European Space Agency) research is often carried out in close cooperation with several partners from the Industry, e.g. DEIMOS Remote Sensing (PT), Gamma Remote Sensing (CH), Murmurations SAS (FR), GAEL (FR), Logical Clocks (SE).


Organizing Courses, Summer Schools and Inter-Disciplinary Symposia
The ELLIS Unit Jena faculty are committed to disseminating the most recent advances in their constantly evolving research area as well. This outreach activities cover a wide expertise audience: from young researchers or students in the field to the broad public. Over the years, the faculty have taken a leading role in developing new University courses, offering tutorials at conferences, and organizing summer schools and symposia that bring together researchers with diverse backgrounds. For example Professor Alexander Brenning and Professor Giesen organize respectively the yearly ‘GIS Day’ and the ‘Data Science Day’ where the regional research institutions and private companies in the area share their recent advances on Geo-Informatics and Data Sciences with the scientific and general community. The faculty has also been involved in the organization of the Climate Informatics Workshop Series. Within the framework of the Michael Stifel Center Jena and the IMPRSgBGC Research School, the faculty has also participated or co-organized several talks, workshops and summer schools with focus on machine learning and its application to Earth Sciences: e.g. Dagstuhl Seminar ‘Computer Science meets Ecology” or workshop on “Environmental Informatic Challenges”, among others. The faculty have also taught numerous advanced tutorials and/or challenges at top-tier conferences in ML and AI like the ‘Causality4Climate (C4C)’ NeurIPS competition for causal discovery on climate data challenges in 2019. We will expand these activities within ELLIS and together with other ELLIS units.
Participation in Expert Groups, Regulatory Bodies, and Public Outreach
The ELLIS Unit Jena faculty actively participate in expert groups and frequently advise governmental agencies (from regional to national and European level) regarding the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning in society and its applicability to Earth and Climate sciences. As concrete examples, members of the faculty have been recently involved in the grounding of the Thuringian Centre for Learning Systems and Robotics, actively participate in the IPCC International Panel of Climate Change assessment reports and contribute to the German National Strategy on Sustainability. In addition, unit members integrate the strategic review boards of the Helmholtz Artificial Intelligence Cooperation Unit.
Public Release of Software and Data Artifacts
The ELLIS Unit Jena faculty will continue and intensify their established practice of sharing their research data and software publicly. Examples of such activities is the Cause-me causality benchmark platform which provides ground truth benchmark datasets featuring different real data challenges to assess and compare the performance of causal discovery methods and the EarthNet 2021 challenge.

Dr. Conrad H. PHILIPP
European Laboratory for Learning and Intelligent Systems (ELLIS)
ELLIS Unit Jena | Project Coordinator