EU to develop a digital twin of Earth to better predict climate impact

1 Apr 2022

Image: © ipopba/Stock.adobe.com

The project is being supported with an initial €150m investment, with the goal to create a ‘full’ digital replica of the Earth by 2030.

The European Commission has launched a new initiative to help tackle the climate emergency by developing a highly accurate digital model of Earth.

The Destination Earth initiative aims to help monitor, model and predict natural and human activity, and develop and test scenarios for more sustainable development.

Future Human

The project will be supported with an initial €150m from the Digital Europe programme until mid-2024. The information, scenarios, forecasts and visualisations will be provided first to public sector users, before gradually going to scientific communities, the private sector and the general public.

“With Destination Earth, we are building on Europe’s strong cards,” EU commissioner for the internal market Thierry Breton said.

“From artificial intelligence, cloud computing, high-speed connectivity networks to our successful Copernicus Earth observation programme and our world-leading EuroHPC supercomputers, we are combining our assets in order to make our future more safe and secure.”

It is hoped the prediction capabilities of this model will help protect biodiversity, manage water, monitor renewable energy and mitigate disaster risks in a changing world.

The project is being developed with the help of the European Space Agency, the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites.

The EU plans to develop the project gradually, with a few key planned milestones. By 2024, it is hoped the system will be composed of a core system, a data lake and digital twins.

The core system will provide decision-making tools, applications and services, based on a secure cloud-computing system. The data lake will provide storage space and access to data and will be built upon existing scientific datasets.

The digital twins will combine data from real-time observations and simulations. One will focus on weather-induced and geophysical hazards such as floods and earthquakes, while the other will focus on supporting mitigation scenarios for the climate emergency.

The project then aims to create a ‘full’ digital replica of the Earth by 2030.

“This initiative is a clear example that we cannot fight climate change without digital technologies,” executive VP for a Europe fit for the digital age, Margrethe Vestager, said. “For example, the digital modelling of the earth will help to predict major environmental degradation with unprecedented reliability.”

Climate is a key focus area for the EU with the European Green Deal. Last month, EU finance commissioner Mairead McGuinness told Irish businesses that private investment is key to achieving climate goals in Ireland and the EU by 2050.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com