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DestinE

Apr 1, 2022

Initiatives and Programs

 DestinE (Destination Earth)

March 30 2022: Today, the European Commission, ESA, the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (Eumetsat) celebrated the official launch of the Destination Earth initiative: an ambitious project that involves creating a digital replica of Earth to help us move towards a sustainable future. 1)

Destination Earth (DestinE), led by the European Commission's DG Connect, aims to develop a highly accurate digital model of Earth that will monitor and predict environmental change and human impact. Using innovative Earth system models, cutting-edge computing, satellite data and machine learning, DestinE will allow its users to explore the effects of climate change on the different components of the Earth system, together with possible adaptation and mitigation strategies.

Figure 1: Destination Earth (DestinE), is an initiative of the European Union, that aims to develop a digital twin, or replica, of our planet. This twin will be used to monitor the effects of natural and human activity on our planet, anticipate extreme events and adapt policies to climate-related issues (image credit: ESA)
Figure 1: Destination Earth (DestinE), is an initiative of the European Union, that aims to develop a digital twin, or replica, of our planet. This twin will be used to monitor the effects of natural and human activity on our planet, anticipate extreme events and adapt policies to climate-related issues (image credit: ESA)

The project will contribute to achieving the objectives of the green transition and support the European Commission’s Green Deal and Digital Strategy actions on climate change, biodiversity and deforestation. It will also aid in monitoring food security, changes in the polar regions and sea level rise.

Simonetta Cheli, Director of Earth Observation Programmes at ESA, comments, “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.”

Figure 2: A digital twin is, in essence, a virtual representation that serves as a real-time digital counterpart of a physical object. Destination Earth’s digital twins are digital replicas of our planet’s complex Earth system. They will be built under thematic categorisations from the different domains of Earth science, such as extreme natural disasters, climate change adaptation, oceans and biodiversity. The aim is to integrate these digital replicas to form one comprehensive digital twin of the complete Earth system (image credit: ESA)
Figure 2: A digital twin is, in essence, a virtual representation that serves as a real-time digital counterpart of a physical object. Destination Earth’s digital twins are digital replicas of our planet’s complex Earth system. They will be built under thematic categorisations from the different domains of Earth science, such as extreme natural disasters, climate change adaptation, oceans and biodiversity. The aim is to integrate these digital replicas to form one comprehensive digital twin of the complete Earth system (image credit: ESA)

ESA will be responsible for the DestinE Open Core Service Platform, a user-friendly platform that will rely on the most comprehensive and sophisticated 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.

ESA’s Destination Earth Project Manager, Eric Monjoux, says, “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.”

Eumetsat will be responsible for the multi-cloud data lake underpinning DestinE, including its design, establishment and testing, as well as its operations of the online inventory, while 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.

Figure 3: Destination Earth will help scientists and policymakers to understand the complex interactions that the environment and humans will play in shaping Earth’s future. Destination Earth will also form the baseline for effective European adaptation strategies in support of the green transition, helping the EU reach its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050, and the implementation of the European Commission’s Green Deal and Digital Strategy. (image credit: ESA)
Figure 3: Destination Earth will help scientists and policymakers to understand the complex interactions that the environment and humans will play in shaping Earth’s future. Destination Earth will also form the baseline for effective European adaptation strategies in support of the green transition, helping the EU reach its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050, and the implementation of the European Commission’s Green Deal and Digital Strategy. (image credit: ESA)

DestinE will be developed gradually through the following key milestones: the development of the open core digital platform and the first two digital twins by 2024, and by 2030 a ‘full’ digital replica of Earth through the convergence of the digital twins available through the platform.

Figure 4: Destination Earth – new digital twin of the Earth will help tackle climate change and protect nature (video credit: #DigitalEU #DigitalTwin #DestinE #EuropeanSpaceAgency #eumetsat #ECMWF)

 

Who are Destination Earth’s Partners?

The European Commission (EC) will lead and coordinate the implementation efforts among a core group of leading European organisations which will be responsible for developing the main elements of the initiative.

These include ESA, the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (Eumetsat).

ESA will be responsible for the DestinE Open Core Service Platform, a user-friendly platform that will rely on the most comprehensive and sophisticated 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.

Eumetsat will be responsible for the multi-cloud data lake underpinning DestinE, including its design, establishment and testing, as well as its operations of the online inventory, while 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.

Timeline

DestinE will be developed gradually through the following key milestones:

• By 2024: Development of the open core digital platform and the first two digital twins: Digital Twin on Weather-Induced and Geophysical Extremes and the Climate Change Adaptation Digital Twin.

• By 2027: Integration of additional digital twins to serve sector-specific user cases into the platform.

• By 2030: A ‘full’ digital replica of Earth through the convergence of the digital twins available through the platform.

Upcoming Digital Twins

DestinE will be implemented gradually over the next five to six years. The first two digital twins to be developed will be: Digital Twin on Weather-Induced and Geophysical Extremes and the Climate Change Adaptation Digital Twin.

The Digital Twin on Weather-Induced and Geophysical Extremes, managed by ECMWF, will provide capabilities and services for the assessment and prediction of environmental extremes. Decision-makers will be able to anticipate the occurrence and impacts of extreme natural events, such as flooding and forest fires, with increased precision.

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 decadal timescales, at regional and national levels.

More digital twins will be developed in the following years and brought together to develop a ‘full’ digital replica of the Earth system by 2030. The possible new developments can include digital twins of the oceans, biodiversity and urban environments.

 


 

Destination Earth – new digital twin of the Earth will help tackle climate change and protect nature

As of 20 March 2022, the Commission has launched together with partnering organisations the Destination Earth initiative to help tackling climate change. Supported with an initial €150 million from the Digital Europe Programme until mid-2024, the goal is to develop a highly accurate digital model of the Earth. It will help monitor, model and predict natural and human activity, and develop and test scenarios for more sustainable development. High-quality information, digital services, models, scenarios, forecasts and visualisations will be provided first to public sector users and then gradually to scientific communities, the private sector, and the general public. 2)

Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President for a Europe fit for the Digital Age, said: “Destination Earth will improve our understanding of climate change and enable solutions at global, regional and local level. This initiative is a clear example that we cannot fight climate change without digital technologies. For example, the digital modelling of the Earth will help to predict major environmental degradation with unprecedented reliability.”

Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market, added: “With Destination Earth, we are building on Europe's strong cards. From Artificial Intelligence, cloud computing, high-speed connectivity networks to our successful Copernicus Earth observation programme and our world-leading EuroHPC supercomputers, we are combining our assets in order to make our future more safe and secure.”

A highly accurate digital model of the Earth

The Commission, 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) will gradually develop the Destination Earth system by setting up a core platform that will host digital replicas of Earth systems and natural phenomena, called Digital Twins.

By the end of 2024, the DestinE system will be composed of:

Core Service Platform operated by ESA. It will provide decision-making tools, applications and services, based on an open, flexible, and secure cloud-based computing system.

Data Lake operated by EUMETSAT. It will provide storage space and seamless access to the datasets. The data lake will be built upon existing scientific datasets, such as the Copernicus Data and Information Access Services (DIAS), complemented by other non-spatial sources, like sensor-based environmental data and socio-economic data.

Digital Twins, developed by ECMWF. They combine data from real-time observations and simulations:

- The Digital Twin on weather-induced and geophysical hazards will focus on floods, droughts, heat waves, and geophysical phenomena like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis. In case of floods, for example, this Digital Twin will help local and regional authorities to test actions with greater accuracy that will help save lives and reduce property damage.

- The Digital Twin on climate change adaptation will provide observation and simulation capabilities to support activities and mitigation scenarios for climate change. To help achieve carbon neutrality, information will be made available from different domains such as sustainable agriculture, energy security, and protection of biodiversity.

 

Next Steps

The three entrusted entities will publish tenders for acquiring various components to be integrated into the Destination Earth system in the spring of 2022.

In addition to the Digital Europe Programme Committee, Member States and Associated Countries will be involved through the Destination Earth Coordination Group. Furthermore, independent scientific and technological expertise will be provided through the Strategic Advisory Board. Both expert groups will start their activities in the second quarter of 2022.

Additionally, the scientific community and policy users will be able to engage with the initiative through a Scientific Wiki and public workshops to ensure that the system responds to real user needs and reflects the wider stakeholder needs and knowledge.

For More Information

Destination Earth policy page

Destination Earth brochure

Destination Earth factsheet

Destination Earth Video

 


1) ”Journey to Destination Earth begins,” ESA Applications, 30 March 2022, URL: https://www.esa.int/Applications/Observing_the_Earth/Journey_to_Destination_Earth_begins

2) ”Destination Earth – new digital twin of the Earth will help tackle climate change and protect nature,” European Commission Press Release, 30 March 2022, URL: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_22_1977
 


The information compiled and edited in this article was provided by Herbert J. Kramer from his documentation of: ”Observation of the Earth and Its Environment: Survey of Missions and Sensors” (Springer Verlag) as well as many other sources after the publication of the 4th edition in 2002. - Comments and corrections to this article are always welcome for further updates (eoportal@symbios.space).

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