Scientists are casually building Earth's digital twin

This project is a collaboration between the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), the European Space Agency (ESA), and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT). The actual programming and computing is happening at ETH Zurich and the Swiss national Supercomputing Centre (CSCS). The work follows Europe’s commitment to carbon neutrality by 2050.

Using data about climate as well as human activities, the souped-up and superpowered version of something like Google Earth will help experts trace through the consequences of weather events as well as human structures—like whether a program to buoy sinking parts of Venice will withstand more rapidly rising waters, for example, or whether a levee will hold during a severe storm.

“The new Earth system model will represent virtually all processes on the Earth’s surface as realistically as possible, including the influence of humans on water, food and energy management, and the processes in the physical Earth system,” ETH Zurich says in a statement. This is in addition to extensive climate data, creating one unified model that also brings together computer science and climate studies.