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Earth digital twin project launches

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

The European Commission has officially launched its project to develop a digital twin of the Earth.

The Destination Earth (DestinE) initiative brings together the European Space Agency (ESA),  the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (Eumetsat) to develop a highly accurate digital model of Earth that will monitor and predict environmental change and human impact.

The project is led by the European Commission’s DG Connect and will use new Earth system models, cloud computing, satellite data and machine learning to allow users to explore the effects of climate change on the different components of the Earth system, together with possible adaptation and mitigation strategies.

“Destination Earth is a key initiative for Europe that will form the baseline for effective European adaptation strategies and support the green transition. ESA and all involved partners will work hard to bring their own expertise, Earth observation data and excellence to help Europe achieve the next step in informed decision-making,” said Simonetta Cheli, Director of Earth Observation Programmes at ESA.

ESA will be responsible for the DestinE Open Core Service Platform that aggregates space-based observation data, including data from ESA’s Earth Explorers, the Copernicus Sentinel series, data from ECMWF and, over time, other major data holdings in Europe.

“The DestinE Core Service Platform is a place of European industry excellence. It is designed, procured and overseen by ESA and ready to evolve to encompass the challenges of the Green Deal and climate change adaptation,” said Eric Monjoux, the project manager at ESA.

Eumetsat will be responsible for a multi-cloud ‘data lake’ to supply the digital twin, including its design, establishment and testing, as well as its operations of the online inventory.  The ECMWF will be responsible for the Digital Twin Engine, including the development of the two initial Digital Twins: Digital Twin on Weather-Induced and Geophysical Extremes and the Climate Change Adaptation Digital Twin.

“Destination Earth 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 Destination Earth come to be integrated as part of their evolution,” said Florence Rabier, director general of the ECMWF.

The open core digital platform and the first two digital twins are planned for 2024, with a ‘full’ digital replica of Earth through the convergence of the digital twins available through the platform by 2030.

www.esa.int; https://digital-strategy.ec.europa.eu/en

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