The European Green Deal recognises that Europe’s seas, oceans, and environment are a source of natural and economic wealth for Europe that we must preserve and protect to ensure that they continue sustaining us in the future. The Mission Restore our Ocean and Waters, under Horizon Europe, aims at protecting and restoring ecosystems and biodiversity, for zero pollution, and for decarbonisation and net greenhouse gas emissions reduction towards climate-neutrality. These objectives are fully aligned with the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.
In this context, the development of an EU Digital Twin of the Ocean is a key priority for Europe. It will be built on existing EU assets, i.e. the complementary services provided by the Copernicus Marine Service and the European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet), to improve ocean knowledge and support science-based actionable decision-making based on the next generation of EU digital ocean models and marine information systems and enabling implementation of what-if scenarios. The Blue Cloud project is always referenced as one of the important assets to be integrated in this construction.
In addition to the ILIAD DTO project, the first European DTO project, the EU commission, wanting to scale up the DTO initiative and make it compatible with the Destination Earth program, has started the project for a EU Public Infrastructure for the European Digital Twin, called EDITO-infra.
EDITO-Infra will be upgrading, combining and integrating key service components of the existing EU ocean observing, monitoring and data programmes Copernicus Marine Service (Copernicus Marine Service) and the European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet) into a single digital framework. As such, EDITO-Infra will provide the foundation for the further development of the EU DTO initiative, hosting the deployment of multiple DTO applications from ongoing and future digital twin projects, supporting the deployment of new generation of ocean models (e.g. via Horizon Europe underlying models for the European DTO projects) and of the Mission lighthouses projects.
In this perspective, the integration of Blue-Cloud assets could be dual. First at data access level, the different datasets available in Blue-Cloud could become part of the Datalake of the EU DTO. This would give continuity to the work of data gathering and organizing made in Blue cloud, while offering users of this data access a solution. Second, the different demonstration projects and the VREs, created in Blue-Cloud, could be hosted on the service infrastructure of the DTO. This would open some sustainability to the Blue-Cloud project results and enable the community of users and collaborators to get into and maintain these services in a durable way as offered by the EDITO infra platform.
Blue-Cloud as a founding pillar of the DTO
Within this infrastructure, Blue-Cloud is seen as one of the founding research components, offering e-infrastructure services (computing, storage, analytical, SSO, AAI and generic services to be orchestrated with a large variety of data resources), federated data (10M+ datasets and products from leading European marine data management infrastructures (COPERNICUS C3S, COPERNICUS CMEMS, ELIXIR-ENA, EMODnet, Euro-Argo, Argo GDAC, EuroBioImaging, EurOBIS, ICOS-Marine and SeaDataNet), and research intensive virtual labs. Blue-Cloud also offers an entry level to EOSC, where services and products can be exploited and used in the DTO and where an active community of research stakeholder is piloting Open Access services for cross-disciplinary purposes.
The DTO project is piloted by Mercator Ocean International, a global leader in digital oceanography selected by the European Commission to implement the Copernicus Marine Service for the flagship EU Copernicus Earth Observation programme. MOI is now becoming an Intergovernmental Organisation, with the endorsement of the French Government and other countries (decision taken during the One Ocean Summit on 11 February 2022). MOI is also a Steering board partner in the Blue-Cloud project.