Dr Jon Blower from the University of Reading and colleagues were awarded `Best Paper' at the UK e-Science All Hands Meeting in Nottingham this week for their paper describing how such virtual globes can aid scientific research and communicate results to a wide public. "This is more than just eye candy," said Dr Blower. "Visualisation is extremely important for revealing new information about environmental processes from the local level right up to the global scale."
Google Earth is a computer-based 3D representation of the Earth on which you can superimpose your own information. Based on satellite imagery, it can also show you, rather alarmingly, an image of your house from space. The Reading scientists have used it, however, to visualise two or more scientific datasets simultaneously.
Figure 1 shows how the passage of Hurricane Katrina affected sea surface temperature in the Gulf of Mexico. One dataset shows sea surface temperature, with red colours being warmer. The other tracks the passage and intensity of the hurricane, with red dots representing greater intensity. "The image shows that the hurricane caused the sea on the right-hand side of the storm to cool, which is where the strong winds would have caused upwelling of colder subsurface water," says Dr Blower. "You can also see the hurricane grow in strength as it picks up energy from the warm ocean." A video revealed precisely how the storm and the sea affect each other.
Google Earth is also helping environmental scientists to test their models against real data. Figure 2 shows at a glance whether a model of the ocean is good at predicting what is actually observed. Green dots indicate that the model's predictions of temperature and salinity accord well with measurements recorded by ships and buoys. The red pins, which are mainly located in the turbulent Gulf Stream, are not such a good match. "A virtual globe allows the scientist to view the data at a huge range of scales. Sometimes a global overview is appropriate and sometimes the scientist needs to zoom in to a region where observations are very closely spaced," says Dr Blower.
In another application, scientists from the British Antarctic Survey are displaying real-time data in Google Earth to help them direct scientific missions. The movement of penguins recorded by scientists in the field, for example, is being combined with satellite images of nutrient concentrations to plot where the penguins, and hence the scientists, should be heading next, helping to make the most efficient use of time and resources on scientific cruises.
"These virtual globes are particularly useful for bringing data together visually to explore ideas before embarking on a detailed study. For example a scientist could quickly bring together data feeds to investigate the effects of weather on outbreaks of disease. There are thousands of examples of how virtual globes can help us to generate and explore new ideas about how the world works", said Dr Blower. Future work could extend the capabilities of virtual globes, enabling them to visualise undersea and underground data.
Professor Jie Xu of Leeds University who chaired the AHM programme committee said: "This is an excellent survey on the hot topic of using virtual globes to visualise and share important environmental data, supported by interesting and realistic application examples."
Julia Short | alfa
Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel
Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...
A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.
The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
22.05.2018 | Life Sciences
22.05.2018 | Earth Sciences
22.05.2018 | Trade Fair News