Skip to main content
Move the World.
climate change research

Lead Image © abrilla / Adobe Stock

An ambitious new model of Earth proposed by the European Union may prove a potent tool for climate change research. Dubbed "Destination Earth" — or, more optimistically/fatalistically DestinE — the project seeks to create a "digital twin" of our home.

The model, proposed to enter development next year and be finalized by 2025-2030, will simulate the atmosphere, ice, ocean, and land, and even the impact of humanity, creating the most robust terrestrial simulacra yet, Science's Paul Voosen reports. 

Aiming for an impressive resolution down to the kilometer, DestinE will be loaded up with natural and socioeconomic data.

Armed with the new model, the EU hopes to be able to monitor the Earth's health, simulate the planet's natural systems, help to improve predictions, and support the EU's policy decisions — and how those decisions are implemented. 

Creating Earth's "Digital Twin"

DestinE will break down the planet's atmosphere into 1km boxes, more granular than other models, Science reports; this will allow it to base forecasts and future climate change research on more real-time data than other models. 

This is far higher resolution than even top flight models like the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts'CMWFEMWF's, which runs out at 9 square km. DestinE will be able to directly model convection — the upward transferral of heat that brings us clouds and storms — rather than rely on an algorithmic model. 

Even the whirling eddies of the ocean, those contradictory curls that birthed the myth of charybdis and dictate the motion of heat and carbon in the seas, will be modeled.

Bolstering it all will be data designed to assess human impact — crop growth, pollution — and events like wildfires or volcanic eruptions.

The EU hopes to monitor the Earth’s health, simulate its natural systems, improve predictions, and support the EU’s policy decisions.

The fine scale will allow the model to forecast and simulate data at the level at which that data (from satellites, buoys, weather stations, and aircraft) is gathered, Sandrine Bony, a cloud scientist at Pierre Simon Laplace Institute, told Science. 

Eventually, DestinE will become Earth's "digital twin," an in-depth replica of a living entity.

The League of Extraordinary (Simulated) Earths

DestinE joins a raft of other simulated Earths being used to study weather and climate change research. 

Japan's already run some experiments using a 1km scale model, according to Science, which found that being able to simulate convection and eddies can lead to more accurate precipitation predictions – an important find. 

Other models are looking to the past, simulating snapshots of the Earth's climate throughout history to help us hone the search for habitable exoplanets.

It's too early to tell the impact DestinE will have on climate change research and weather forecasting, but existential problems necessitate ambitious answers.

Up Next

Seachange
Ship’s Logbooks Are the First Records of Climate Change Data
Ship’s Logbooks Are the First Records of Climate Change Data
Seachange
Ship’s Logbooks Are the First Records of Climate Change Data
With the weather and ice data from old ship’s logs, Dr. Kevin Wood realized it was possible to reconstruct the history of sea ice in the Arctic to better understand climate change.

With the weather and ice data from old ship’s logs, Dr. Kevin Wood realized it was possible to reconstruct the history of sea ice in the Arctic to better understand climate change.

Robotics
MIT Turned a Robo-Dog Into a Robot Doctor
robot doctor
Robotics
MIT Turned a Robo-Dog Into a Robot Doctor
MIT converted a robo-dog built by Boston Dynamics into a robot doctor and then asked patients how they felt being treated by it.

MIT converted a robo-dog built by Boston Dynamics into a robot doctor and then asked patients how they felt being treated by it.

Veterans
Amputee Veterans Need to Game, So This Engineer Builds New Controllers from Scratch
adaptive controllers
Veterans
Amputee Veterans Need to Game, So This Engineer Builds New Controllers from Scratch
Inspired by his visits to Walter Reed Medical Center, engineer Ken Jones makes adaptive controllers to keep veterans gaming.

Inspired by his visits to Walter Reed Medical Center, engineer Ken Jones makes adaptive controllers to keep veterans gaming.

Coronavirus
Bats May Provide Clues for Treating COVID-19
treating covid 19
Coronavirus
Bats May Provide Clues for Treating COVID-19
Bats have long lives despite playing host to numerous viruses. Three scientists believe bats' immune systems may help develop new ways of treating COVID-19.

Bats have long lives despite playing host to numerous viruses. Three scientists believe bats' immune systems may help develop new ways of treating COVID-19.

Public Health
Microbe in Mosquito Guts Completely Blocks Malaria Parasite
Malaria Parasite
Public Health
Microbe in Mosquito Guts Completely Blocks Malaria Parasite
Scientists have discovered a microbe in the guts of mosquitoes that appears to prevent the most common malaria parasite from infecting the insects.

Scientists have discovered a microbe in the guts of mosquitoes that appears to prevent the most common malaria parasite from infecting the insects.

Future of Science
Researchers are Rushing to Freeze... Lab Mice Sperm?
Lab mice
Future of Science
Researchers are Rushing to Freeze... Lab Mice Sperm?
With their labs closing and the future unclear, researchers are sending precious cargo — the sperm of lab mice — to be frozen and stored.

With their labs closing and the future unclear, researchers are sending precious cargo — the sperm of lab mice — to be frozen and stored.

Superhuman
Helping Kids Walk With Wearable Robots
Helping Kids Walk With Wearable Robots
Watch Now
Superhuman
Helping Kids Walk With Wearable Robots
Exoskeletons aren't just science fiction anymore. Wearable robots are helping kids with cerebral palsy walk.
Watch Now

Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common movement disorder in children, and nearly half of kids with CP can't walk own their own. As bones grow and muscles set incorrectly, walking becomes progressively more difficult. Extensive and repeated surgeries are often required to provide relief, but they can't solve the underlying problem. Now, engineers in the Biomechatronics Lab at Northern Arizona University are hoping that...

Superhuman
The Promise of Gene Therapy
The Promise of Gene Therapy
Watch Now
Superhuman
The Promise of Gene Therapy
When Karen was told her daughter had an incurable disease, she started a gene therapy company to find a cure.
Watch Now

When doctors told Karen there was no cure for her daughter’s brain disease, she took matters into her own hands. With no scientific background, she created a gene therapy business that can fix the faulty genes in patients like her daughter. Now she’s racing against the clock to extend her daughter’s life and improve the lives of others.