Digital twin of the Earth and the disruption in the analysis of climatic phenomena

The global temperature has been registering the highest marks. The past five years have been the hottest in Human history. And phenomena such as heavy rains, droughts, changes in the level of the oceans and fires, such as those we recently saw in the Amazon and California, are increasingly intense and frequent.

The impact of this on everybody’s lives is evident and growing, as is the perception of the interconnectedness between environmental changes and the appearance or worsening of diseases, financial crises, and social problems.

Part of us, aware of the dimension of the risks, is mobilized for actions intended to reduce, since there is no way to reverse, the escalation of these phenomena. Many governments, multilateral institutions, and companies are implementing initiatives, forming alliances, and modifying processes aimed at sustainability.

Investment packages to stimulate the post-covid-19 economic recovery include measures that pave the way for the green economy. And, in the financial segment, the investment banner committed to environmental, social, and governance principles, the so-called ESG has been multiplying. Another front is headed by the philanthropist entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs who are investing a few millions in the development of new technologies that are less harmful to the environment and life.

At the other end of this disruptive innovation chain, the European Union is leading a project that will make it possible to simulate the atmosphere, oceans, and land with much greater precision. To give you an idea, typical climate models run at resolutions of 50 or 100 kilometers; and the most powerful climate analysis models today work at a resolution of nine kilometers. The new model, named Destination Earth (DestinE), will have a 1-kilometer resolution.

The new model will have inputs about human behaviour

The creation of this “digital twin” of the planet Earth, in a digital model with exascale processing capacity, will significantly increase the possibility of predicting phenomena such as floods, droughts and fires up to years in advance. According to an article by the science specialist from Science Magazine, Paul Voosen, the new European model will also monitor human behavior, through cellphone signal, such as energy consumption and displacement patterns, allowing to verify its impacts in the environment and society.

At first, the data will be used to foster sustainability policies by governments. Access will gradually be extended to the scientific community and the private sector. The forecast is to implement it in a period between 7 and 10 years, starting in 2021.

With more detailed data captured in real-time, it will be possible to closely monitor levels of air pollution, the behavior of crops, the occurrence and extent of forest fires and floods and to use this information for policy formulation. With the digital twin of Earth, our leaders will be able to predict the effects of climate change on agriculture and, therefore, on our economy, as well as the effectiveness of actions to limit deforestation in the Amazon, for example.