Destination Earth (DestinE) aims to develop – on a global scale - a highly accurate digital model of the Earth to monitor and predict the interaction between natural phenomena and human activities. As part of the European Commission’s Green Deal and Digital Strategy, DestinE will contribute to achieving the objectives of the twin transition, green and digital.
DestinE will unlock the potential of digital modelling of the Earth systems at a level that represents a real breakthrough in terms of accuracy, local detail, access-to-information speed and interactivity. The initial focus will be on the effects of climate change and extreme weather events, their socio-economic impact and possible adaptation and mitigation strategies. Through the unprecedented observation and simulation capabilities of DestinE, empowered by Europe’s HPC computers and AI capacity, we will be better prepared to respond to major natural disasters, adapt to climate change and predict the socioeconomic impact. By consolidating access to valuable sources of data across Europe, DestinE represents also a key component of the European strategy for data.
Users of DestinE, including non-scientific experts, will be able to access and interact with vast amounts of Earth system and socio-economic data in order to:
- Perform highly accurate, interactive and dynamic simulations of the Earth system, informed by rich observational datasets: for example allowing to focus on thematic domains of societal relevance such as the regional impacts of climate change, natural hazards, marine ecosystems or urban spaces.
- Improve prediction capabilities to maximize impact: for example to protect biodiversity, manage water, renewable energy and food resources, and mitigate disaster risks in a changing world.
- Support EU policy-making and implementation: for example, to assess the impact of existing environmental policies and legislative measures and support future evidence-based policy-making.
- Exploit the potential of distributed and high performance computing (HPC) and data handling at extreme scale: for example through an interactive platform that will host complex digital twins and comprehensive toolkits to develop and operate analytics-based models, with full access to vast amounts of diverse data.
Europe’s industrial and technological capabilities will be reinforced through, for example, the simulation and observation of the entire Earth system and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) for data analytics and predictive modelling.
Destination Earth system
DestinE will allow users to access thematic information, services, models, scenarios, simulations, forecasts and visualisations. Underlying models and data will be continuously assessed to provide reliable and actionable scenario predictions. DestinE will initially serve public authorities and will gradually open up to a larger range of scientific and industrial users and the general public to spur innovation and develop new applications and services.
The main components of the DestinE system are:
- The Core Service Platform provides a user-friendly entry point for DestinE users. The platform will provide evidence-based decision-making tools, applications and services, based on an open, flexible, and secure cloud-based computing system. It will coordinate data, cloud and HPC infrastructures and provide access to an increasing number of Digital Twins as they become gradually available via related European Commission and/or national efforts. The platform will make available relevant AI tools, extreme-scale data analytics and Earth-system monitoring, simulation and prediction capabilities. At the same time, it will provide dedicated resources to DestinE users, allowing them to customise the platform, integrate their own data and develop their own applications. The procurement of the platform and the associated DestinE service operations will be the responsibility of the European Space Agency (ESA).
- The Data Lake is the consolidation of pre-existing European data holdings from Copernicus, the data holdings of the three Destination Earth implementing entities (ESA, EUMETSAT and ECMWF) and other sources, like the Internet of Things (IoT) and socio-economic data. It also integrates the new data that will originate from the Digital Twins, creating a coherent and self-standing DestinE data space. It will provide access to the data needed for the Digital Twins and the Core Service Platform operations and it will host user data, shared with the DestinE user community while supporting near-data processing to maximize performance and service scalability. The Data Lake will be operated by the the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT).
- The Digital Twins – digital replicas of the highly complex Earth systems – are based on a seamless fusion of real-time observations and high resolution predictive modelling in the thematic areas, starting from the extreme events and climate change adaptation. The long-term goal is to integrate additional digital twins – for example on oceans or biodiversity – for a comprehensive digital twin of the Earth. The digital twins of DestinE will provide users with tailored access to high-quality knowledge for user-specific scenario development for decision support. The Digital Twins will be developed by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF).
The operational core platform, the data lake and the first digital twins will be made operational as part of the Commission’s Digital Europe Programme. Horizon Europe will provide research and innovation opportunities that will support the further development of DestinE. There are synergies with other relevant EU programmes, such as the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking and the Space Programme, and related national initiatives. The European Commission coordinates the DestinE initiative in close collaboration with the Member States, Associated Countries, scientific communities and technology experts.
The initiative will be jointly implemented by three entrusted entities: 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) over the next 7-10 years. On 15 December 2021, the European Commission and the three implementing entities signed Contribution Agreements to start the first phase of implementation until mid-2024.
Preparing for DestinE
The first stakeholders workshop on DestinE was organized in November 2019 to announce the initiative and collect feedback from potentially interested stakeholders. It brought together a large number of potentially interested parties from public authorities and the industrial and scientific communities.
To explore potential application areas and parallel initiatives, the Joint Research Centre conducted a Study on DestinE use cases analysis and a Survey on digital twin initiatives in EU countries, with contributions from ESA, ECMWF and EUMETSAT, Commission services and agencies.
A further series of open stakeholder workshops took place:
- In October 2020, two workshops on user specifications for the first two Digital Twins (environmental extremes and climate change adaptation resulted in a summary report.
- In November 2020, a workshop on DestinE system architecture design.
- In February 2021, a Policy user engagement workshop to discuss the two priority twins with potential policy end-users and propsals for use cases.
A public online event was organised on 30 March 2022 to officially launch the initiative in presence of the representatives of the three implementing entities, key stakeholders and general public.
DestinE will be developed gradually through the following key milestones:
- By 2024: Development of the core service platform, the data lake and the first two digital twins on extreme natural events and climate change adaptation.
- By 2027: Further enhancement of the DestinE system and integration of additional digital twins and related services.
- By 2030: A ‘full’ digital replica of the Earth.