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EU officially launches Earth digital twin to fight climate change

11 June 2024

Image: Shutterstock
Image: Shutterstock

The EU Commission is harnessing Europe's high-performance computers and AI capacity to simulate the effects of extreme weather events in order to prepare better for natural disasters.

The Commission has now officially activated the initial Destination Earth (DestinE) system in the presence of Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager and the Finnish Minister for Employment, Arto Satonen. 

DestinE is a flagship initiative of the Commission, aiming to develop a highly accurate digital twin of the Earth. 

Deployment of the DestinE system means that Europe's high-performance computers (EuroHPC), including the LUMI supercomputer in Kajaani, Finland, have been tasked to simulate the effects of climate change and extreme weather events. 

Thanks to this initiative, Europe will be better prepared to respond to major natural disasters, adapt to climate change and assess the potential socioeconomic and policy impacts of such events.

“The launch of the initial Destination Earth (DestinE) is a true game changer in our fight against climate change. DestinE will provide us with a highly accurate twin of the Earth,” said Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age.

“It means that we can observe environmental challenges which can help us predict future scenarios – like we have never done before.”

DestinE is using unprecedented modelling capabilities, thanks to EuroHPC computers and Artificial Intelligence capacity. 
The initiative also represents a key component of the European strategy for data by consolidating access to valuable sources of data across Europe. 

DestinE is now operational and it is expected continuously to evolve, extending operations and developing further components. By 2030, DestinE should complete a full digital replica of the Earth.

The main features of the initial system include:
• DestinE Core Service Platform, serving users access to its services, tools, and applications
• Two DestinE digital twins – the Digital Twin on Climate Change Adaptation and the Weather-Induced Extremes Digital Twin, offering data at high resolution supporting the analysis and testing of scenarios
• DestinE Data Lake providing seamless access to DestinE digital twins’ data and a large number of other data sources, including Copernicus, the EU's Earth Observation component of the EU's space programme

The currently agreed funding through the Digital Europe programme is over €315 million. The launch marks the end of the first phase and the start of the second phase, both funded with over €150 million each. 

The third phase and its funding are subject to the agreement of the final Digital Europe programme 2025-2027, which is currently being drafted. Further funding for the research and development of additional digital twin capability was awarded through Horizon Europe.

“This first phase shows how much we can achieve when Europe puts together its scientific excellence and its massive supercomputing power,” said Vestager. 

“Today, the future is literally at our fingertips.”

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