Fit for purpose and sustained ocean and sea observations are essential for understanding and forecasting ocean behaviour. Measures to protect marine social-ecological systems and support the blue economy are based on these insights and forecasts. 10-20 years ago, marine data from these observations were difficult to find, only accessible through long and sometimes costly negotiations and hard to put together to create a complete picture because of different standards, nomenclature and baselines.
For the past two decades, the European Union invested in policies and infrastructures to enable this sustainability and fitness for purpose. Its Member States, together with neighbours, have created an unrivalled marine data, modelling and forecasting infrastructure, essentially based on EMODNet – the European Marine Observation and Data Network - gathering in-situ and reference ocean data in Europe and the Copernicus marine environment monitoring service (CMEMS) providing European and global operational ocean forecasting and ocean climate services based on the assimilation of these in-situ ocean observation into numerical ocean models. They are supported by European Research Infrastructures and by major R&D projects to deploy ocean observatories at sea and collect marine data (e.g. Eurofleets+, EuroArgo, Jerico, Danubius, EMBRC, EMSO, ICOS, LifeWatch, etc). Cooperation and the principles of free and open access, interoperability, and “measure once, use many times”, were largely promoted, as well as the added-value demonstrated through Copernicus, the European Research Framework Programmes FP7 and Horizon 2020, Blue Cloud and EMODnet activities.
The Digital Twin of the Ocean concept is to make a step further by integrating all European assets related to seas and oceans (data, models, physical ocean observatories at sea) with digital technologies (cloud, super HPC capacities, AI and data analytics) into a digital component that represents a consistent high-resolution, multi-dimensional and (nearly) real-time description of the ocean. It will contribute to the Commission’s Green Deal and Digital Package commitments to develop a very high precision digital model of the Earth (Destination Earth initiative).
AI and analytics, thematic or sectorial models and computing power will transform data into knowledge. They will facilitate co-creation and inter-disciplinary approaches between natural sciences, humanities and social sciences for the co-construction of methods, expertise and applications to support decision making. This digital view of the ocean will enable a multi-angle perception of the ocean: its physics, chemistry, geology, biology as well as the environmental and socio-economic impact of human activity.
It will be a simulator to test scenarios that deal with different evolutions of the ocean environment. It will empower citizens, governments and industries to collectively share the responsibility to monitor, preserve and enhance marine and coastal habitats, while supporting also a sustainable blue economy (fishing, aquaculture, transport, renewable energy, etc.). It will enable measures to increase resilience to climate change, improve disaster risk management, develop spatial plans, report on the state of the environment, coastal or offshore activity and measure its impact.
Proposals for such a development should demonstrate their usefulness with regard to Green Deal priorities (e.g. impact of ocean climate scenarios on aquaculture and fisheries, impact of sea-level rise and extreme waves on coastal risks, pollution monitoring and scenarios for mitigation and remediation strategies, and maritime spatial planning). It needs to fulfil all of the following criteria: deliver break-through in accuracy and realism, represent optimal synergy between observations and models; fully integrate downstream impact sectors of the socio-economic areas addressed in their test case; include a rigorous handling of quality and confidence information.
Proposals should address:
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 12 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts. In line with the Union’s strategy for international cooperation in research and innovation, international cooperation is encouraged.
The action will deliver a digital interactive framework based on digital technologies compatible of Destination Earth and the Digital Package including an digital ocean simulator based on a high-resolution numerical model of the ocean, including available ocean observation datasets in Europe and digital analytic toolboxes to configure the digital ocean simulator and to access what-if scenarios.
This will enable: