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Destination Earth : Digital twins to predict climate
Isabella V



Last year, extreme weather events caused 151 deaths in the European Union, with damage estimated at 13.4 billion euros from floods, fires, torrential rains, landslides, droughts and heat waves.

To address these problems, the European Commission launched the “Destination Earth” project in 2021, with the aim of creating a digital twin of the Earth to improve climate change prediction and management.

The project, which has already received 300 million euros in funding, is coordinated by Directorate General Connect and involves several organizations, including the European Center for Medium Term Weather Forecasting ( Ecmwf), the European Space Agency ( ESA), and the European Organization for the Exploitation of Weather Satellites ( Eumetsat).

These organizations have contributed data, platforms, and supercomputers to develop the digital models.

The European Commission recently unveiled the first two digital Earth twins.

THE first model is designed to guide climate change adaptation policies through 2040-2050, with a resolution of 5 KM, significantly higher than current models.

The second model is intended for short-term weather prediction, with a resolution of 2-4 KM globally and 500-700 meters for specific areas.

These models offer significant advantages over the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, used by the World Climate Research Program, which cannot represent small-scale events and is not updated in real time.

The European digital twins, on the other hand, provide local forecasts with real-time data.

The Commission plans to release additional digital twins in the coming years, with a dedicated model for oceans planned for June and more models by 2025 and 2026.

The full configuration of the “ Destination Earth” project is planned for 2030, with a total investment of 343 million euros in the first two phases.

Access to the digital twins is available to public administrations, universities and research centers, including those outside the EU.

However, due to the high cost of supercomputing, the use of “ Destination Earth” will have to be strictly planned and prioritized.

Brussels is also addressing the need to upgrade European supercomputers to support the development of AI models, an increasingly important area.

The shortage of GPUs in the market, dominated by Nvidia, is a significant challenge.

Nvidia is also developing its own digital Earth twin, “ Earth-2,” which aims to improve weather forecasting.

Global competition is intense, with Europe, the United States and China competing to dominate this emerging field.