What is the Virtual Ocean Model Lab?

What is the Virtual Ocean Model Lab? 

The European Digital Twin of the Ocean (EU DTO) is set to revolutionise ocean numerical modelling and its utilisation. The Horizon Europe project EDITO-Model Lab is already contributing by developing its groundbreaking core technological platform, the Virtual Ocean Model Lab (VOML). This innovative infrastructure encompasses essential empowering features such as an ecosystem tailored for collaborative development and software testing, and the integration of advanced tools in oceanography. 

The VOML is supported by our sister project EDITO-Infra, which integrates key service components of the existing EU ocean observing, monitoring, and data programmes, such as EMODnet and the Copernicus Marine Service, into a single digital framework.

Within EDITO-Model Lab, the VOML is being built in the project’s WP5, under the leadership of Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) and co-leadership of CINECA. The core objectives of the VOML are to create a technologically advanced platform for co-developing software and applications. This platform will cater to users familiar with oceanography and numerical modelling, providing them with a range of tools and resources previously inaccessible.

EDITO platform for the Digital Twins of the Ocean screenshot


Key Contributions and Initiative Integration


The VOML plays a pivotal role in the EDITO initiative. It stands as the software infrastructure for integrating various components being developed in EDITO-Model Lab Work, namely by:

  • WP3 – Models for the Digital Twin of the Ocean:  Aims to enhance and optimise existing ocean numerical models, ensuring compatibility with high-performance computing (HPC) hardware. This involves refining models for coastal processes, developing diverse ocean configurations, optimising for HPC and graphics processing units, and validating against satellite and in situ observations for later integration into the EU DTO platform.
  • WP4 – Integration of DTO Core Model Suite: Focuses on designing and integrating the core model suite for the EU DTO. This involves creating a hybrid model suite that combines Deep Differentiable Emulators with classical numerical models, integrating various components such as physical models, downscaling capabilities, and coupling with biogeochemistry and other factors. The resulting core model suite is developed, validated, and optimised for HPC, with simulations showcasing its benefits over existing products.

Once finalised, the VOML will be employed to run selected applications (WP6-WP7), namely the EDITO-Model Lab Focus Applications (FAs) and What-if Scenarios (WiS). Its workflow and technical support will ensure interoperability and optimisation into the public EU DTO platform.


Understanding the VOML's Functionality

The VOML functional design is the result of a series of development and co-design meetings run by EDITO-Model Lab, such as the October 2023 User’s Co-Design Meeting and the November 2023 Co-Design Review Workshop. At its core, the VOML leverages the public EU DTO platform and databases, empowering this infrastructure by integrating and optimising different computing resources. It also offers functionalities to configure, relocate, and manage integrated model suites and applications while providing robust monitoring tools to interact with and oversee the resulting outcomes.

In sum, the VOML is a comprehensive system that brings together a development subsystem and an advanced computing infrastructure, creating a comprehensive environment for optimising and managing diverse computing resources.

VOML scheme


Autosubmit: The Backend of VOML

The Autosubmit workflow manager plays a key role within the VOML infrastructure. It seamlessly blends cloud-based capabilities with the extensive computing power offered by EuroHPC JU systems, acting as the middleware for merging diverse processes within the VOML. Beyond its interfacing role, Autosubmit ensures smooth workflow orchestration and helps establish robust data pipelines, guaranteeing uninterrupted data flow to HPC and Cloud applications. Autosubmit is currently already deployed in the VOML infrastructure and will be the starting point for the deployment of additional process and service layers in the VOML.


Relocatable Platforms: Enhancing On-Demand Ocean Numerical Modelling

The relocatable platforms are integral to the VOML, essential for enabling on-demand ocean numerical modelling with enhanced adaptability and accuracy. These components, an inherent part of the VOML architecture, provide a flexible framework for configuring and executing FAs and WiS. Integrated seamlessly with Autosubmit, they automate tailored experimentation, facilitating rapid responses to emergencies, extreme events, and natural hazards in the global ocean.

One example is the utilisation of Structured and Unstructured grid Relocatable Ocean platforms for Forecasting (SURF). Various users will be able to use this technology to develop high-resolution, nested models focused on specific regions of the world ocean.


Integrating Specialised GUIs for Accessibility

One of VOML's highlights is the integration of specialised Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) connected to model builders. These GUIs offer user-friendly interfaces for configurations, validations, and utilisation of tools for the development of the FAs and WiS, enhancing accessibility and ease of use.


Driving Collaboration and Innovation

The VOML is not just a platform: it is a collaborative space driving innovation, facilitating co-development, and supporting the development lifecycle of various models and applications within the EDITO-Model Lab project. The new infrastructure aims to significantly enhance user responsiveness and interaction by enabling the quick generation of precise numerical forecasts via a user-friendly web interface connected seamlessly to essential computational resources. 

Therefore, the Virtual Ocean Model Lab signifies a leap forward in ocean numerical modelling, serving as a milestone in establishing the European Digital Twin of the Ocean.

Stay tuned for more exciting updates on the construction of the EU DTO. In the meantime, we invite you to subscribe to our mailing list and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter/X for the latest developments.

  • 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