To better manage climate change, South Korea is digitizing the ocean

Digital twin technology.

In late January, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries announced an investment of 38 billion won (US$32 million) over the next five years to create a digital twin of Korean oceans.  A digital twin is a virtual representation that serves as the real-time digital counterpart of a physical object or process.  This technology allows real-time monitoring on one hand while also enables the users to build simulations and models using different variables.

The government hopes to use the digital twin as testbeds for marine projects, including to predict the impact that could arise from climate change, and to predict the likelihood of coastal disasters due to changing weather conditions like currents and tides. 

With the digital twin technology being able to come up a virtual representation for different scenarios with different challenges and outcomes, this will empower government officials to formulate a considered set of policies, and to inform decision making. 

According to the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, in the past, there is a lack of a relevant technology or the specified information required, to scientifically assess the impact of marine development projects and climate change.  Moreover, ocean investigations tend to be more expensive relatively.

Park Hyo-sung, an official from the Marine Environment Policy Department at the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, said that this is the first time that the maritime industry is adopting the digital twin technology.

Park told Maritime Fairtrade: “The ministry is planning to create a live digital version of the Korean ocean.  Although this technology has been used for other inland projects, it has not been used in the maritime industry yet.  So, this project will be a pioneer.”

Park said that in future, using the digital twin technology, the government will test different scenarios first before implementing any projects.

The ministry plans to develop a 4D data model by upgrading the current 3D digital twin technology, including using time-sensitive data to reflect real-time changes in the oceans.  Using simulation, officials can evaluate the effect of marine development policies on related activities, ranging from fishing to transportation. The simulation can also predict the impact of such policies on the marine environment. 

Park added that the ministry also hopes to predict potential coastal disasters caused by currents and higher sea levels.

“The model might be able to predict the change in sea levels due to climate change, too.  It may calculate how the rise in sea levels will impact coastal facilities and buildings, and possible damages.”

Park said the ministry is looking to collaborate with interested and qualified private sector partners.

“Our ministry’s field experts and scholars estimated that this digital twin project will generate an additional value of 13 trillion won (US$ 11 billion) for the maritime industry,” said Park.

“This technology can new jobs and other economic opportunities, and if the trials are successful, we are planning to commercialize it and promote its use throughout the industry.”

Sunny Um

Sunny Um

Sunny, our South Korea correspondent working out of Seoul, is a journalist with a passion for community journalism and an interest in economics and politics.

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