EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Digital twincubator eWaterCycle

Niels Drost1, Peter Kalverla1, Bart Schilperoort1, Barbara Vreede1, Sarah Alidoost1, Stefan Verhoeven1, Yang Liu1, and Rolf Hut2
Niels Drost et al.
  • 1Netherlands eScience Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (
  • 2Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands

Recently there’s been a lot of enthousiasm for the concepts of digital twins, virtual research environments, serious games, and other inspiring ideas to improve “the way we do science.” With eWaterCycle, we are no stranger to the cause. We’ve worked hard to build a platform that could make the scientific process – specifically, hydrological modelling – more accessible and engaging.  

eWaterCycle gives users access to a centralized platform where they can perform hydrological experiments: simulating how water flows through a catchment area of choice. Complete with data, a suite of models, an interactive scripting environment, and a graphical explorer to quickly setup an experiment. It shares many characteristics with what is commonly understood of a digital twin. But is it, really?  

Sadly, the concept of digital twins suffers from linguistic inflation. At a recent event on the topic, the main coffee chatter was along the lines of “but what actually is it?” In an arena filled with resonating buzz, a clear image can help to regain focus and a common frame of reference. Is eWaterCycle, as a platform that supports working with each other’s models and data, a digital twin? Or is it more an incubator of digital twins? Either way, eWaterCycle can help make things concrete and specific, because it already exists.  

With several new projects promising to build digital twins of all sorts, we hope our experience can feed into the discussions on and development of new digital twins. Therefore, at EGU, we would like to reflect on the essence of our platform and our experience in building it. What is it (not)? What’s in it for you? What challenges did we face? And what does that mean for open science and collaborative research? 

How to cite: Drost, N., Kalverla, P., Schilperoort, B., Vreede, B., Alidoost, S., Verhoeven, S., Liu, Y., and Hut, R.: Digital twincubator eWaterCycle, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-14998,, 2023.