What can you do with the EDITO-Model Lab What-if Scenarios?

What can you do with the EDITO-Model Lab What-if Scenarios?


A What-if Scenario (WiS) is a hypothetical situation that is imagined to simulate the potential consequences of different choices or circumstances, allowing individuals or organisations to better prepare for the future. In various fields such as business, science, or engineering, WiS are often used as a tool for analysis, planning, or decision-making. In the context of ocean governance and coastal zone management, WiS can be extremely valuable for assessing and planning for various threats, policies, actions, projects, investments, and initiatives.

Within the scope of the construction of the European Digital Twin of the Ocean (European DTO), EDITO-Model Lab offers access to multiple suites of meticulously documented and validated numerical models incorporating artificial intelligence methodologies. These highly interoperable and adaptable systems, as well as access to precomputed databases, empower users to address pressing socio-ecological challenges encompassing coastal hazards, marine biodiversity conservation, decarbonisation, and ocean pollution mitigation.

Following a fruitful co-design phase in 2023, the project is preparing a set of WiS to be integrated into the future European DTO public platform. The WiS exemplify the system's capacity to allow users to explore and evaluate potential solutions to a variety of pressing challenges already affecting the global ocean and coastal communities, leveraging the on-demand numerical modelling capabilities of society. Through EDITO-Model Lab’s WiS, users will be able not only to visualise, but also to perform their own simulations for the challenges addressed by the revolutionary tool.

Advanced ocean hydrodynamics and coastal morphodynamics numerical models are being enriched with artificial intelligence (AI) and fuelled with high-performance computing-optimised numerical models by EDITO-Model Lab. Our AI-based emulators offer computational efficiency for swift testing of WiS to deliver a comprehensive digital replica of the physical and biogeochemical processes that govern the ocean and coastal functioning. This assemblage of tools constitutes today’s best numerical model combination available for simulating ocean and coastal phenomena.

Under the lead of Hereon and with the support of our consortium’s partners Mercator Ocean International, Euro-Mediterranean Centre for Climate Change, Deltares, University of Bologna, Danish Meteorological Institute, Barcelona Supercomputing Centre and the +ATLANTIC CoLAB, EDITO-Model Lab's WiS introduce groundbreaking innovations into the European DTO.

Similarly to the project’s Focus Applications, there are three main categories of challenges covered by EDITO-Model Lab WiS: nature-based solutions for marine biodiversity and coastal hazards, marine plastic for zero pollution, and aquaculture for zero carbon.


EDITO user-friendly interface enhances accessibility, providing both predefined scenario simulations and on-demand numerical modelling options.


WiS 1—Nature-based solutions for marine biodiversity and coastal hazards

In a sea-level rise context, coastal regions face intensifying threats like coastal erosion and flooding. Countries, organisations, and communities need to evaluate the impact of specific nature-based solutions (NBS) to reduce such hazards, supporting coastal adaptation to climate change.

Based on the needs and requirements of intermediate and end users, EDITO-Model Lab is preparing WiS for NBS involving seagrass and salt marshes to protect the coastal zone from the largest storms. These NBS WiS explore the dynamic interplay of climate change, human use, and coastal zone management to evaluate the efficiency of the current protection measures against the projected climate change scenarios.

This WiS for NBS goes beyond existing approaches by considering the impacts of artificial structures in the natural environment, both under the present conditions and as projected for the future. For instance, users can explore pre-defined and on-demand scenarios for coastal erosion protection, considering human interventions and sea level rise (SLR). This enables informed decision-making for coastal management. 


Questions that WiS 1 will help you answer?

  • What are the best seagrass types and their landscaping for optimal coastal protection?
  • How can the optimal seagrass meadow (best location and size) be determined regarding the management strategies and climate change, for example for sea level rise?


WiS 2—Marine plastic for zero pollution

Next-generation numerical ocean modelling and AI tools are also being employed by EDITO-Model Lab to facilitate the exploration of WiS for marine plastic pollution across different geographic regions. Specifically, microplastics in the Baltic, North, and Mediterranean seas.

The reduction of the discharge of microplastics from river catchments or on a national scale is being addressed. Macroplastics are also being considered to evaluate the impact of reducing their emission through major rivers. Globally, this WiS examines the reduction of macroplastics from major rivers, mapping plastic distribution over up to 10 years.

This EDITO WiS includes uncertainty assessments from various river input databases and global ocean circulation estimates. Users will be able to simulate the plastic inputs by selected major rivers, allowing them to explore human impacts from local “hot spots” into the global ocean.


Questions that WiS 2 will help you answer?

  • For a given reduction in a major pollution source, like a river or an inefficient wastewater treatment plant, what are the impacts on seawater quality?
  • For a given reduction of water pollution on a river catchment, what are the impacts on a nearby Marine Protected Area?


WiS 3—Aquaculture for zero carbon

Marine aquaculture is set to become a crucial provider of animal protein, algae, and medicines for a rapidly growing global population but comes with a series of environmental impacts. Blue economy actors are focused on conceiving and testing innovative ways to reduce aquaculture emissions into the marine environment while also fostering carbon sequestration.

This WiS addresses shellfish aquaculture operations, and their carbon emission effects, particularly targeting coastal activities in the North and Baltic seas. The goal is to support a sustainable intensification of low-emissions aquaculture to maintain a small greenhouse gas footprint.

Co-designed with industry members and regional and national stakeholders, such as OSPAR and ministries from various countries, this WiS will allow the assessment of the environmental impact of new aquaculture facilities, including CO2 sequestration by shellfish. Environmental conditions will be assessed using EDITO models on demand and predefined scenario simulations, ensuring that both local and regional perspectives are considered.


Questions that WiS 3 will help you answer?

  • What are the carbon fluxes of shellfish aquaculture sites, when implemented within different offshore wind park locations?
  • What is the potential of carbon sequestration by shellfish aquaculture within offshore wind parks?


Once integrated into the European DTO, this WiS will empower scientists for targeted research and innovation and facilitate science-based decision-making by coastal zone managers and governmental agencies in an unprecedented collaborative approach. Aligned with EU policies and Mission Ocean goals, this WiS for NBS will enhance much more resilient and sustainable coastal zones around Europe and beyond.

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  • Portability and interoperability of numerical models and simulation techniques
  • Optimisation and adaptation to new and future computing platforms
  • Coupling, interaction and hybridisation between different numerical models and Machine Learning components to represent ocean physics, biogeochemistry, biology and ecology
  • Flexibility in use, configuration design and simulations to suit applications
  • Virtual Ocean Model Lab is a co-development platform to connect developers of various models, users willing to produce simulations using AI and ML, and associated infrastructure providing access to different computing (HPC, CLOUD) and data storage and dissemination resources (data lake)
  • Usage examples and user support for Focus Applications and What-if Scenarios