These European scientists are going to build Earth’s digital twin – an ambitious feat to simulate climate events
A group of European scientists in Zurich have recently started work on an ambitious plan: to build a digital twin of the planet. With a virtual version of the Earth they hope to be able to visualize different scenarios of what the future of the planet could look like in terms of climate and meteorological changes. The more similar to Earth, the more accurate it will be. Yes indeed, not so much as not to distinguish it from the real.
As they describe in a research published in Nature these weeks, the idea is to create a kind of sandbox where can study what impacts on the Earth and its health would have different events. For example, what would happen to sea level on the coast of Barcelona if we raise temperatures 0.5 degrees Celsius in the next four years.
To get such accurate data the simulated digital planet will have to have an immense amount of data collected from the real world. The relief of the entire globe, the meteorological history of the last decades, the ecosystems of each area, its flora and fauna … The researchers hope that all this will help them to find out what steps will help and will not help mitigate climate change.
Destination Earth is the name of the project. It is a ten-year work program funded by the European Union. Likewise, it is part of larger objectives of the European Union such as being carbon neutral by 2050 (measures like ending combustion vehicles also enter here). With this virtual planet, you could, for example, see and understand what impact each of the measures you are trying to take to be more environmentally friendly would have. That is, to find more efficiently which measures are effective in the medium and long term.
The interesting thing here will be to see if they are capable of doing it and how much data it will require. Such a system is scalable, so cover time you can enter more and more data to make it more accurate and smart. However, meteorological predictions are one of the fields where more resources are currently used and where supercomputers are used the most. If huge quantities are already required to predict few variables and in certain areas, the power required to simulate an entire world is going to be spectacular.
They indicate that data occurring in the real world will continually be incorporated into the digital twin to make it more accurate. That is, if for example there is a hurricane on the Atlantic coast, it will be added to the simulated twin and with the repercussions it has had. In this way it will be an identical twin up to the present and therefore narrow down your predicted future choices to make them more accurate to what can actually happen.
An interesting factor that sets it apart from current weather forecasting systems is that it will include a lot more data. They look for what include and take into account human activity and decisions as well. That is, from deforestation or human constructions to the consumption of energy, food or water that we carry out. We will see, in a few years, how this project evolves.