What will EDITO add to the European ocean modelling landscape?

What will EDITO add to the European ocean modelling landscape? 


Over the past decade, the European Union has developed fundamental data infrastructures and ocean services, such as the Copernicus Marine Service, the Copernicus Data and Information Access Services, and the European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet). These entities provide meticulously curated global and pan-European ocean observation data, forecasts, and analyses, among other tools and services.

Building upon these established assets, the European Commission is now leveraging these foundations, interconnecting them with analogous systems dedicated to inland waters, and further integrating the entire knowledge value chain spanning from observations to end-user applications - through the application of cutting-edge digital technologies.

two edito projects

With this objective in mind, the European Commission has entrusted the principal operators behind the Copernicus Marine Service and EMODnet, Mercator Ocean International and VLIZ, respectively, to develop the core infrastructure for the European Digital Twin of the Ocean (EDITO) as part of the Horizon Europe project known as EDITO-Infra. 

Also, under the coordination of Mercator Ocean International, a substantial component of the EDITO initiative is the associated project, EDITO-Model Lab. This initiative brings together a broader consortium comprising various European institutions, including +ATLANTIC, BSC CNS, DMI, IMT, Fondazione CMCC, CNRS, Deltares, CINECA, HEREON, NERSC, SOCIB, and the University of Bologna. 


EDITO-Model Lab aims to develop the next generation of ocean numerical models, which will subsequently be integrated into EDITO-Infra. These models will provide access to specialized applications and simulations for 'what-if' scenarios, thereby facilitating evidence-based decision making towards the sustainable management of marine and coastal environments. 

EDITO will integrate new ocean observations, adding more marine environment components to improve forecasts through downscaling. EDITO will also centralise and uniformise existing and new ocean data to address interlinked multidisciplinary ocean issues. The list of modelling tools that will be used and shared in EDITO is defined in a co-design phase including the configurations and the area that will be covered with the physical ocean model used by the Copernicus Marine and EuroGOOS communities.  

The selected numerical models will cover a large variety of ocean processes at different spatial and temporal resolution, from global ocean simulation to coastal zones. EDITO will allow to improve the interaction with several critical natural components, such as the atmosphere, rivers, ocean biogeochemistry, and marine biology, as well as pollution.  

Serving as the most advanced and meticulous numerical modelling tool for the ocean, EDITO will unite local and global systems by combining the forefront of artificial intelligence with robust high-performance computing capabilities, resulting in an entirely novel approach to deliver an operational, federated, interoperable, on-demand, publicly accessible, and free ocean Virtual Ocean Model Lab demonstrator by 2024.

The ocean model configurations will be optimised to meet the technical constrains of the infrastructures used in EDITO, in particular the cloud computing technology, the latest technology in European high performance computing centres including the accelerated computing based on Graphic Processor Unit (GPU) and the data access on cloud platforms.  


EDITO’s Virtual Ocean Model Lab will allow users to access computing resources, a large diversity of models, tools, data sets, and products, fostering the capacity to perform on-demand simulations and data processing. Global ocean simulations will be accessible on the EDITO platform to be used for a large diversity of applications, from regional to coastal downscaling, to train neural network in addition to the existing reanalysis or forecast that are already produce in Copernicus Marine framework.

A suite of modelling tools will be also developed in the Virtual Ocean Model Lab to provide on-demand simulation and forecast capacity, as well as data processing for validation and intercomparison approaches.  

An example of the numerical model downscaling that EDITO will provide. Images show results for ocean vorticity in the Indian Ocean, near India and Sri Lanka, using different ocean model resolution from 25 km to 3 km at global scale. 

An example of the numerical model downscaling that EDITO will provide. Images show results for ocean vorticity in the Indian Ocean, near India and Sri Lanka, using different ocean model resolution from 25 km to 3 km at global scale.


Following the approach proposed by Fablet et al., 2021, neural networks will be used to build Deep Differentiable Emulators to emulate and forecast Lagrangian trajectories, surface velocities or ocean turbidity in an entirely new way. Artificial intelligence will be also combined with current existing analysis and forecasting systems to optimise model and data assimilation components through new parameterisations. 

The neural network structure 4DvarNet will be adopted in EDITO to build emulators.
The neural network structure 4DvarNet will be adopted in EDITO to build emulators. 


EDITO-Model Lab will also contribute to the EDITO Platform, including new data sets accessible on the DATA LAKE and dedicated demonstrator running on the EDITO Engine as Proof of Concept for specific topic such as Marine Protected Areas, shipping routes, pollution sources, nature-based solutions, aquaculture, and marine plastic.

As a collaborative effort, EDITO will integrate contributions from European projects like Iliad, Blue-Cloud, Immerse, and Mission Ocean Lighthouses. These initiatives establish the core of the Digital Ocean Knowledge System under the EU's Mission Restore our Ocean and Waters. EDITO is pivotal to various initiatives, including International Ocean Governance, the UN Ocean Decade, and the G7 Future of the Seas and Oceans Initiative, with the EU's participation. 

EDITO aligns with the EU Digital Agenda, will be interoperable with Destination Earth, and benefit from the Ocean Observation initiative. Once operational, EDITO's societal benefits include empowering citizens with scientific insights for informed decisions, improving ocean governance and marine conservation, and contributing to disaster-risk management, while helping to boost a more sustainable blue economy. 

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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