Destination Earth

Our planet's digital twin

globe real world and digital simulation

What if you could look into the future of our planet? 

How will the impact of severe weather and climate change affect your country or your region and how will you manage the risks of environmental extremes?  

To address the need for enhanced prediction capabilities, the European Union has set in motion Destination Earth (DestinE), a visionary initiative to create Digital Twins of the Earth system supporting climate change adaptation policies and decision-making for reducing the impacts of extremes. DestinE will contribute to revolutionising the European capability to monitor and predict our changing planet and complement existing national and European services.

The initiative is a pillar for the EU’s Green Deal Strategy to protect the environment and curb greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Agreement and the aim to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. 

The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) is one of the organisations making this vision a reality, together with the European Space Agency (ESA), and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT). 

In coordination with its Member States, partners and stakeholders in the wider scientific, technological and commercial communities, ECMWF, in Destination Earth’s first phase, is developing the Digital Twin Engine, the complex software and hardware environment needed for the next generation of very high-resolution prediction models, and the first two digital twins

The core platform (developed by ESA), the digital twin engine, the first two digital twins (ECMWF), and the data lake (EUMETSAT) will be implemented in the context of the EU’s Digital Europe Programme. Horizon Europe will be involved in providing research and innovation opportunities for further developments of DestinE all in close cooperation with other European programmes such as the Space Programme and national initiatives. 

With the existing Copernicus Programme and the newly created Destination Earth initiative, Europe is equipping itself with the tools, infrastructure and capability to best plan and act for our planet's future.

By 2024 the integration of additional sectoral digital twins will start. 

By 2030 the convergence of the different digital twins in a “full” digital replica of Earth is expected to have been achieved. 

Digital Twins

Watch our short animation on the real impact that digital twins can offer.

Watch our short animation on the real impact that digital twins can offer.

Digital twin, real impact

The evolution over the last decades of ECMWF’s model for weather prediction, its role implementing the EU-Copernicus Climate and Atmosphere Monitoring Services, and the Integrated Forecasting System and the latest developments in supercomputing, places us in a strong position to bring the digital twins to life. 

Research running the first seasonal integrations at a spatial resolution of 1 km and the ECMWF Scalability Programme, paved the way for generating the highly complex models and computing codes needed to produce such simulations of the Earth-system on powerful supercomputing infrastructures.

The individual digital twins will produce near real-time, highly detailed and constantly evolving replicas of Earth, including the impacts of human activities. Ultimately, the twins will be combined to build a single, highly complex replica of the Earth system that will be more detailed than anything seen before, providing prediction capabilities with an unprecedented level of detail and reliability but also an infrastructure to interact with models and data in new ways.

The Digital Twin Engine

The Digital Twin Engine, which powers the digital twins will provide the software infrastructure needed for extreme-scale simulations and data fusion, data handling and machine learning adapted to exploit the capabilities of the state-of-the-art supercomputer technology available.

It will also provide a flexible environment to operate the digital twins, trial on demand configurations adapted to specific applications and integrate them in the wider European and International digital environment.

Machine learning and artificial intelligence will be used to improve the realism of the digital representations of our world and their efficiency in terms of computing.

It will result in a powerful, scalable, interactive engine giving access to the digital twin's data in real-time, with enough flexibility to be adapted to different architectures and needs, across all the future digital twins.

Learn more about the role of the Digital Twin Engine and the Digital Twins in this explanatory animation.

The digital twin on Weather-induced and Geophysical extremes 

The first high-priority digital twin on Weather-induced extremes will deliver breakthroughs in accuracy, level of detail, interactivity and access to data speed. Its extension to geophysical extremes will follow in phase 2 of the programme.

It will support near real-time decision-making for impact mitigation and risk assessment of the increasingly frequent extreme weather events.

Building upon ECMWF’s decades-long experience in numerical weather prediction, it will be able to provide much more detailed information on extreme weather, hydrology and air quality from continental to city level.

The twin will be built using a co-design approach to match the requirements of sensitive sectors such as agriculture, water or energy resources management.

The digital twin on climate adaptation

The climate change adaptation digital twin will provide simulations of climate scenarios from global to regional and national levels at a multi-decadal timescale, including uncertainty quantification.  

The goal is to help society, decision makers, and users from climate-sensitive sectors to better understand the impacts of climate change, supporting the adaptation and mitigation strategies. 

As with the extremes twin, the climate adaptation twin will largely rely on co-design through close and permanent contact with users from impact-sectors to make sure the digital twin responds to their information needs.

Both digital twins are to be built in a scalable and flexible software architecture to ensure the interoperability within the Destination Earth environment as well as across the European supercomputer and data handling infrastructures.

They will also rely on the integration of extreme-scale computing and real-time environmental observational data handling to produce the most likely current state of the Earth system.

A European computing science challenge

Both weather extremes and climate change derive from global processes, but their impacts are local, and so we need to increase the level of detail of what we can predict and what we measure.   

This demands computing capacities currently unachievable. 

The Destination Earth initiative will rely on the strength and power of the EuroHPC network of supercomputers and on ECMWF’s bilateral agreements with supercomputer operating nations.

ECMWF has been preparing for years to enhance its Integrated Forecasting System in order to be able to make efficient use of this next generation of supercomputers through the Scalability Programme. Enhanced efficiency through Destination Earth will enable the further development of forecast capability.  

The supercomputers based on Graphic Processor Units (GPU) have been a reality for more than a decade and introduced an opportunity to greatly enhance the performance of numerical weather prediction models. Nevertheless, adapting the CPU codes to the programming needs of GPU has been a long process.   

The EuroHPC network will help process the extremely complex simulation codes, run the first Digital Twins simulations at scale, as well as support the design of the prototypes that could go into production.   

ECMWF is committed to deliver a Weather-induced and Geophysical extremes Digital Twin and a Climate Change Adaptation Digital Twin based on this technology.  

the earth at 4 different resolutions

A Baseline for global weather and climate simulations at 1km resolution

A Baseline for global weather and climate simulations at 1km resolution

event poster with globe for destination earth information day

Destination Earth information day event

Destination Earth information day event

Florence Rabier, ECMWF Director General at the Living Planet Symposium 2022

Florence Rabier, ECMWF Director General, at the Living Planet Symposium 2022

Florence Rabier, ECMWF Director General, at the Living Planet Symposium 2022

News and events in brief

Below are the most up to date articles related to Destination Earth. For further articles related to Destination Earth and other activities carried out by ECMWF, visit our media section

How partners will shape Destination Earth's future
Engaging with a wide-range of sectors is key to the successful implementation of the DestinE initiative. Read the article

Exploring the possibilities: creating real-world uses of a Digital Twin
What are use cases and why are they so important for Destination Earth? Read the article

Destination Earth meets German stakeholders
On 14 June, the German Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport and the German Space Agency (DLR) gathered the national stakeholders in a workshop to inform about the status and future plans of Destination Earth. Read the article

ECMWF had high profile at Living Plant Symposium and EGU Assembly
Key members of the Destination Earth science team presented at the Living Planet Symposium held in Bonn in May 2022. Read the article

Destination Earth launch event
On Wednesday 30 March, the European Commission organised a public online event for the launch of the Destination Earth initiative, together with the implementing entities, ESA, ECMWF and EUMETSAT
Read the article

A baseline for global weather and climate simulations at 1km resolution
Blog by Nils Wedi, Head of Earth System Modelling at ECMWF on the completion of the world's first seasonal timescale global simulation of the Earth's atmosphere with 1km grid spacing
Read the blog

Destination Earth Information Day
The Information Day presented a high-level overview of each of the Destination Earth organisations' intended activities and procurement activities
View the event listing

Opportunities to be involved

The Centre believes the challenges for weather prediction, climate and computing sciences, can only be achieved through a comprehensive international cooperation and co-design approach. Therefore, the project is open to a wide range of collaboration opportunities through tenders and partnerships with leading scientific and technological organisations, Member States’ meteorological services and operational services.

Partnerships

ECMWF is engaging with the larger scientific, technological and commercial communities in the context of the development of the digital twins.  

To increase the added value of the digital twins for societal applications, they will be co-designed and tested with users from sectors such as water management, renewable energy, health and agriculture. This co-design approach will also help to further improve operational Copernicus Services in the relevant sectors. 

We are keen to engage on commercial and non-commercial collaboration with scientific and research organisations, specialists, computing centres.

Recruitment  

ECMWF is building capability to deliver this ambitious initiative and a team of science and technology experts have now been recruited.  

Visit our jobs page for up-to-date recruitment opportunities. 

Tenders

ECMWF is opening invitations for tenders to develop the digital twins. Relevant companies and institutions are invited to submit their applications and join this science and technology adventure.  

We seek partnerships in the fields of climate prediction modelling, high-resolution forecasting, graphic rendering or supercomputing infrastructures, among others.

Current Invitations to Tender  

Use Cases, Opened 06 June 2022, closing date 28 July 2022

Previous Invitations to Tender

Visualisation & Immersive Technologies. Opened 09 May 2022, closing date 27 June 2022

Climate change adaptation Digital Twin. Opened 22 March 2022, now closed.

On-demand Extremes Digital Twin. Opened 30 March 2022, now closed.

More information and further procurement opportunities are on our Invitation To Tender (ITT) page.  

View our Glossary page for a list of definitions, abbreviations and acronyms.

Destination Earth Entrusted Entities

This ambitious programme is deployed in several phases and with three entrusted entities under the leadership of the European Union: ECMWF, ESA and EUMETSAT. 

ECMWF is developing the Digital Twin Engine, the complex software and hardware environment needed for the next generation of very high-resolution prediction models, and the first two digital twins

The European Space Agency ESA is responsible for the development of the Core Service Platform, that will do the interface between Destination Earth’s users and the enormous amounts of observations, simulations and models, decision-making tools applications and services available in the cloud.  

The European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) will build the Data Lake, the storage and access infrastructure for DestinE’s gigantic amounts of data coming from the Digital Twins, from EUMETSAT's Earth observation satellite systems, as well as from the EU's Copernicus Sentinel missions, ESA missions, supplemented by data from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) and, over time, other data holdings in Europe.

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