General, Research, Technology

Scientists begin work on Earth's digital twin

Breaking news such as slowdownThe Atlantic Gulf Stream or an iceberg the size of St. Petersburg that recently split from Antarctica have greatly alarmed the scientific community. Just like the wildfires that swept our planet in 2020, the slowing down of the Gulf Stream and the melting of Arctic glaciers are most likely a consequence of climate change. The current warming, despite the fact that the temperature on the planet has changed several times throughout its history, is caused by anthropogenic activity, as evidenced by the results of numerous scientific studies. Given that many climate models predict an increase in extreme weather events, scientists and world leaders need to take effective action to combat the effects of climate change. This is why an international team of researchers has joined forces to create a “digital twin of the Earth”. The simulation will provide an information system for testing scenarios with different sustainability options.

Comprehensive modeling of our planet's system will help policymakers and scientists prepare for the future.

Why does our planet need a digital twin?

The impact of human activities onthe concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, as well as the impact on the climate system, have been documented and explained by a huge number of scientific publications. The conclusion that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions must be drastically reduced over several decades - to avoid a climate catastrophe - is today a scientific consensus.

According to the United Nations report(UN), extreme weather events have increased in frequency over the past 20 years. From 2000 to 2019, 7,348 major natural disasters killed 1.23 million people. Twenty years earlier, by comparison, there were 4,212 natural disasters that claimed 1.19 million lives. Extreme weather conditions have cost $ 2.97 trillion in global economic losses over the past two decades, up from $ 1.63 trillion two decades earlier.

An iceberg with an area of ​​about 1,270 square kilometers, which is comparable to the territory of St. Petersburg, broke away from the Brant Ice Shelf in Antarctica. The crack on the glacier appeared more than 10 years ago.

These numbers are expected to rise, promptingresearchers to develop large-scale policy decisions in different countries. As part of a plan to reduce air emissions by 2050, the European Union launched the Destination Earth initiative. With it, scientists "track and plan for future extreme weather events and the response to them," says a recent EU report.

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Researchers from the European CenterMedium-Range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF), the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) are also collaborating to promote the new project. Programmers and climatologists are working hard to create a digital twin of the Earth.

Note that this is not only extremely excitingan undertaking, but also a very ambitious project for scientists who want to achieve results over the next decade. We can say that this detailed digitized binary model of the Earth is being developed to see if different options for action in the fight against climate change will be effective before applying them in the real world. As a result, such modeling will help everyone to better understand the problems and correct possible errors, and at the same time to draw up a clear plan of sequential actions aimed at combating extreme climate events and their consequences.

See also: What will the world be like in 2050 if climate change does not stop?

“In an era of rapid climate change, wemust learn to predict extreme events, such as the frequency and intensity of tropical cyclones, and take into account the likelihood of simultaneous heat and drought. The current consequences of natural disasters at the global level are staggering, ”- write its authors in a new strategic document of European scientists and computer specialists ETH Zurich.

Creating a digital twin of the Earth will help determine the best strategies to combat climate change.

The creation of an exact copy of the Earth will significantlysave costs on projects that are ineffective. A climate change mitigation strategy tested and tuned on the Earth Twin will save a lot of time, energy and resources.

According to Zurich, modernhigh-performance computers running on complex algorithms are capable of using and processing gigantic amounts of data. The programmers and developers of the digitized Earth twin project must create the necessary algorithms and use the best of both worlds to bring the twin to life. According to the plans of scientists, this process will take about ten years.

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By 2025, the team plans to launch up to fivedigital twins. The data from these simulations will then be combined to create a "complete digital Earth twin." The researchers note that the future supercomputer must be built where its nodes can run on renewable energy sources, otherwise it will produce significant amounts of CO2. Well, let's wait for good news!

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