Europe is building a ‘digital twin’ of Earth to revolutionize climate forecasts

Earth Space

The European Union is finalizing plans for an ambitious “digital twin” of planet Earth that would simulate the atmosphere, ocean, ice, and land with unrivaled precision, providing forecasts of floods, droughts, and fires from days to years in advance.

Destination Earth, as the effort is called, won’t stop there: It will also attempt to capture human behavior, enabling leaders to see the impacts of weather events and climate change on society and gauge the effects of different climate policies.

The project will start next year and run on one of the three supercomputers that Europe will deploy in Finland, Italy, and Spain.

Bjorn Stevens, a climate scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology called it “the third dimension of climate modeling” as the model will also simulate the ocean in fine enough detail to capture the behavior of swirling eddies that are important movers of heat and carbon. This is due to the fact that the high resolution will enable Destination Earth to base its forecasts on more detailed data.

The model will also incorporate real-time data charting atmospheric pollution, crop growth, forest fires, and other phenomena known to affect weather and climate.

The goal is to allow policymakers to directly gauge how climate change will impact society—and how society could alter the trajectory of climate change.

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