Round discs of barren dirt known as “fairy circles” have long captivated the curiosity of scientists. A groundbreaking new study, harnessing the power of artificial intelligence (AI), has done extensive research on the circle-like patterns in hundreds of fresh locations spanning 15 countries and three continents.
Historically, these peculiar formations were primarily observed in the arid ecosystems of Southern Africa’s Namib Desert and the Australian outback.
The AI research was published on Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It describes how a comprehensive search was facilitated by a neural network, a type of AI that emulates cognitive processes to detect patterns or fairy circles. And offers fresh insights into the natural phenomenon.
A team of scientists led by Dr. Emilio Guirado, a data scientist at the University of Alicante in Spain, scrutinized the high-resolution satellite images of drylands worldwide.
Dr. Guirado was also the lead author of the study. He noted, “The use of artificial intelligence-based models on satellite imagery is the first time it has been done on a large scale to detect fairy-circle-like patterns.”