Destination Earth

Destination Earth – DestinE – is an ambitious initiative of the European Commission to develop a highly accurate digital twin, or replica, of Earth. This would allow users of all levels to better explore natural and human activity, and to develop and test a range of scenarios and potential mitigation strategies. For example, it would allow policymakers to anticipate and mitigate the effects of extreme weather events and climate change, saving lives and alleviating economic consequences.

Bringing together scientific and industrial excellence from across Europe, DestinE will contribute to revolutionising the European capability to monitor and predict our changing planet, complementing existing national and European efforts such as those provided by the national meteorological services and the Copernicus Services, and will support the European Commission’s Digital Strategy and the Green Deal priority actions on climate change, biodiversity and deforestation.

Our role in Destination Earth

Under the European Commission's leadership, and in coordination with the Member States, scientific communities and other stakeholders, ECMWF is one of three entrusted entities tasked with delivering the first phase of the programme by 2024. Our role is to build the ‘digital twin engine’ software and data infrastructure, with the European Space Agency (ESA) providing the platform through which users will access the service, and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) developing the data repository.

We will also be responsible for using the digital twin engine to deliver the first two high-priority digital twins. The Digital Twin on Weather-Induced and Geophysical Extremes will provide capabilities for the assessment and prediction of environmental extremes. The Digital Twin on Climate Change Adaptation will support the generation of analytical insights and testing of predictive scenarios in support of climate adaptation and mitigation policies at multi-decadal timescales, at regional and national levels.

The digital twins will draw on our world-leading expertise in global numerical weather prediction and our expertise in advanced high-performance computing, data handling and machine learning demonstrated on some of the largest infrastructures in the world. These developments in DestinE take forward the long-term investments of the ECMWF member states in building a unique European prediction capability and will support the further advancement of member state services.

A dedicated partnership activity will be set up as part of DestinE, that aims to define how the new capabilities can be integrated within the existing service infrastructure and how to demonstrate the digital twin properties for suitable use cases.

Information on what is a digital twin

Exploring our future through digital planets

The DestinE digital twins will rely on the integration of extreme-scale computing, Earth system simulations and the real-time exploitation of all available environmental observations through data assimilation – the process of combining information from observations and models to distil the most likely current state of the Earth system.

The development of the digital twins will push these capabilities further than ever. Observations will come from many sources, including devices like mobile phones and the internet of things. In addition, new approaches from machine learning and artificial intelligence will be used to improve the realism and efficiency of creating digital representations of our world. 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-designed approach will also help to further improve operational Copernicus Services in the relevant sectors.

The individual digital twins will produce near real-time, highly detailed and constantly evolving replicas of Earth, including impacts from human activities. Ultimately, they 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.

Predicting the future using digital twin