DestinE Digital Twins to anticipate the devastating effects of flooding in coastal areas  

23 April 2023

ECMWF and Deltares Use Case to develop a coastal forecasting and climate adaptation tool  

Delta regions are among the most exposed to the shifts of climate change. Often densely populated, they’re threatened by flood risks from the rivers, the sea, heavy rains and sometimes a combination of all the previous, with devastating consequences due to their specific geographical situation. The Dutch institute Deltares has signed a contract with the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) to develop tools for improved forecasting and climate adaptation, specifically designed for coastal areas, based on Destination Earth’s digital twins’ enhanced capabilities.  

Deltares has been granted one of the Use Case contracts proposed by ECMWF in the frame of Destination Earth (DestinE), the ambitious initiative of the European Union to create a digital twin of the Earth system, to build an innovative ‘digital replica of the deltas’. The platform proposed by Deltares will make use of the enhanced capabilities of the Weather-induced Extremes and the Climate Adaptation digital twins, which ECMWF is responsible for contributing to DestinE, with a focus on the Extremes DT.

This ‘digital replica of the deltas’ will respond to the needs of users who have the responsibility of forecasting and climate adaptation, pushing the limits of computing and weather and climate science in the specific context of coastal areas. The tool aims at, for example, better prediction of flood and storm surge events, and the cumulative impacts that sea level rise, water ways flooding, and the low altitude can have in these territories. 

The tool will create a set of digital replicas of the areas concerned that can be upscaled to any similar region of the world, permitting to test on demand hypothetical scenarios. Built on global atmosphere and ocean models, it will include models and data specific to these regions.  

ECMWF and Deltares Use Case will develop a coastal forecasting and climate adaptation tool. A view from space of the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta where Deltares has its headquarters.
A view from space of the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta where Deltares has its headquarters. Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data 2023 processed with Sentinel Hub.

All aspects of coastal risks, all around the world  

One of the strengths of Deltares’ project is to rely on a wide variety of institutions responsible for flood risk management across the world, expert users with real day-to-day implication in the matter that will demonstrate the value of the proposed forecast and adaptation tool.  

The suitability of the platform will be tested in the United Kingdom by the UK Environment Agency, in the French department of La Reunion by DEAL(Direction de l’environnement, de l’aménagement et du logement de La Réunion) / Surface Libre, in the Basque Country by URA, the Philippines in cooperation with the Red Cross and in the Dutch Caribbean Islands, in partnership with the local authorities and the Dutch Meteorological Service KNMI

These end users will participate in designing the tool from the very beginning of the process. For the first versions, Deltares will rely on the forecasts currently used at the local level (ECMWF, MeteoFrance, UK MetOffice, KNMI) and existing climate projections (Copernicus Climate Change Service-C3S, CMIP, CORDEX, CP-RCMs), wave datasets (C3S ERA5/ WaveWatch III) and discharge datasets (ECMWF’s GLOFAS, EFAS). In further phases the tool will include the relevant datasets generated by DestinE digital twins and its partner institutions. 

To make the project possible Deltares has engaged with the following subcontractors: 

  • KNMI for the use case in the Dutch Caribbean Islands,  
  • Tecnalia for coordinating with the Basque Water Agency URA  
  • The Dutch Red Cross 510 that will contribute with its data modelling center in the Philippines use case.  

Solid experience on Dutch dams, dikes and canals  

This wide range of end users and demonstrator use cases will ensure that the tool covers most of the spectrum of climate and weather-related risks in coastal areas, from storm surges to flooding, droughts and water supply, to name a few examples.  

Deltares is an experienced global leader in applied research for water and subsurface born in the difficult context of the Dutch canals and deltas. Structured as an independent, non-profit institute it has the mission of “Enabling Delta Life” and participates in multiple private and public contracts and projects, providing advice and expertise across the World. It has a track record of cooperation with C3S developing applications based on the Climate Data Store products and projects related to the EU Horizon programme.  

Destination Earth is a European Union-funded initiative launched in 2022, with the aim to build a digital replica of the Earth system by 2030. The initiative is being jointly implemented under the leadership of DG CNECT by three entrusted entities: the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), responsible for the creation of the first two ‘digital twins’ and the ‘Digital Twin Engine’, the European Space Agency (ESA) responsible for building the ‘Core Service Platform’, and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), responsible for the creation of the ‘Data Lake’. 

We acknowledge the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking for awarding this project strategic access to the EuroHPC supercomputers LUMI, hosted by CSC (Finland), and the LUMI consortium, Marenostrum5, hosted by BSC (Spain) Leonardo, hosted by Cineca (Italy) and MeluXina, hosted by LuxProvide (Luxembourg) through a EuroHPC Special Access call.  

More information about Destination Earth is on the Destination Earth website and the EU Commission website.   

For more information about ECMWF’s role visit    

For any questions related to the role of ECMWF in Destination Earth, please use the following email links:    

General enquiries

Press and Communications enquiries