The Digital Earths Lighthouse Activity will push the co-development of high-resolution Earth-system modeling and the exploitation of billions of observations with digital technologies from the convergence of novel High-Performance Computing (HPC), big data, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) methodologies. The core of Digital Earths is to develop generic software-hardware solutions that allow simulation models and data assimilation to perform several orders of magnitude more efficiently. It will facilitate the extraction of Earth-system sector-specific information from vast amounts of environmental data, both simulated and observed. The efficiency gains can be invested, for example, in upgrading simulations, ensembles and/or running more comprehensive scenarios. While the digital infrastructure developments will be carried out by institutions outside of WCRP, the role of Digital Earths will be to drive forward innovations that will ensure that the international climate research community is able to take full advantage of these new and exciting technologies.
The overall objective of this activity is to carry out research activities that support the establishment of integrated interactive digital information systems that provide information on the past, present, and future of our planet.
While the digital infrastructure developments will be carried out through national and international consortia, such as the Destination Earth consortium in Europe, the role of Digital Earths will be to support such initiatives by providing fundamental science and technology developments. This way, it will drive forward innovations that will ensure that the international climate research community is able to take full advantage of these new and exciting technologies. There are three major areas of activity in which the WCRP must play a leading role, which are:
- Global coupled ultra-high-resolution modeling
- Data assimilation for climate
- Regional Digital Earths systems.
These will be supported by a fourth activity on, "advanced digital technology" that will be well connected to existing expertise on HPC, big data, and AI.
- Advanced digital technology
Figure 1: The four themes of the Digital Earths Lighthouse Activity.
The preliminary objectives of Digital Earths are to:
- Establish a global research network with expertise in ultra-high-resolution (kilometer-scale or finer) of the global Earth system and its individual components
- Establish an active research community in data assimilation for climate that builds on the existing numerical weather prediction (NWP) and re-analysis efforts and significantly expands them to fulfill the needs of Digital Earths applications
- Support the establishment of both global and regional Digital Earths demonstration projects across the globe and provide a collaborative network for their development
- Enable the above by optimally exploiting extreme-scale computing and data handling resources through inter-operable software infrastructures
For more information, please see the draft Digital Earths Draft Science Plan (2021).