VIDEO: European agencies unveil plans to create digital twin of Earth

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Representatives from EUMETSAT, ECMWF, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Commission have officially launched a new initiative to develop a highly accurate digital twin of Earth.

The Destination Earth (DestinE) project has the potential to transform how European society is able to deal with the impacts of climate change and weather extremes, and will rely on advanced digital technologies at the core of high-performance and cloud computing, big data handling, artificial intelligence and machine learning. It will also include new types of observations from commodity devices such as smartphones and IoT sensors.

Contribution agreements for DestinE had been previously signed between the participants in December 2021. The ECMWF contribution agreement covers the first 30 months of a seven- to 10-year program.

The three entrusted entities (EUMETSAT, ECMWF, ESA) will shortly publish tenders for acquiring various components to be integrated into the DestinE system in the spring of 2022.

Florence Rabier, ECMWF director-general, said, “DestinE will be a platform where risk planning, mitigation measures and adaptation actions can be demonstrated. This will eventually benefit users of operational services, such as those in Copernicus, national meteorological services and others, as the outcomes of DestinE come to be integrated as part of their evolution.”

The initiative will support the European Commission’s Green Deal priority actions on climate change, biodiversity and deforestation. It will also help monitor food security, changes in the polar regions and global sea level rise. DestinE also contributes to Europe’s digital strategy, which is focused on data, technology and infrastructure.

These technologies will become an integral part of ECMWF’s future digital twin engine (DTE), ESA’s core service platform and EUMETSAT’s data lake. The core service platform provides an open access portal to tools and a virtual, comprehensive data repository, the data lake. Users can interact with the platform and tailor their own workflows and data driven models to their specific needs, whether they are scientists, commercial enterprises or policy makers.

ECMWF’s DTE will consist of generic workflows performing Earth-system simulations and simulation-observational data fusion at very high spatial resolutions. It will have sufficient computational throughput to serve the prediction of extremes and climate adaptation applications.

Applications targeting water, energy, food, health and risk management will be integrated into the engine as much as possible. In the first years of the program, the DTE will feed two high-priority digital twins on weather-induced extremes and climate change adaptation.

At the heart of DestinE will be digital models of the Earth. These will replicate the current world but also allow interaction and scenario-playing, with the ability to change a single aspect and explore the results.

By the end of 2024, the DestinE system will be composed of:

  • Core Service Platform operated by ESA. It will provide decision-making tools, applications and services, based on an open, flexible and secure cloud-based computing system.
  • Data Lake operated by EUMETSAT. It will provide storage space and seamless access to the data sets. The data lake will be built upon existing scientific data sets, such as the Copernicus Data and Information Access Services (DIAS), complemented by other non-spatial sources, like sensor-based environmental data and socio-economic data.
  • Digital Twins, developed by ECMWF. They combine data from real-time observations and simulations:

The Digital Twin on weather-induced and geophysical hazards will focus on floods, droughts, heat waves and geophysical phenomena like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis. In case of floods, for example, this Digital Twin will help local and regional authorities to test actions with greater accuracy that will help save lives and reduce property damage.

The Digital Twin on climate change adaptation will provide observation and simulation capabilities to support activities and mitigation scenarios for climate change. To help achieve carbon neutrality, information will be made available from different domains such as sustainable agriculture, energy security, and protection of biodiversity.

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, editor-in-chief

Dan first joined UKi Media & Events in 2014 having spent the early years of his career in the recruitment industry. As editor, he now produces content for Meteorological Technology International, unearthing the latest technological advances and research methods for the publication of each exciting new issue. When he’s not reporting on the latest meteorological news, Dan can be found on the golf course or apprehensively planning his next DIY project.

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