Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Virtual globes visualise the Earth's environment

17.09.2007
An environmental scientist has won an award for showing how virtual globes, such as Google Earth, can be used to visualise complex scientific data and reveal new insights into environmental processes.

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
Further information:
http://www.rcuk.ac.uk

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht How fires are changing the tundra’s face
12.12.2017 | Gesellschaft für Ökologie e.V.

nachricht Using drones to estimate crop damage by wild boars
12.12.2017 | Gesellschaft für Ökologie e.V.

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A whole-body approach to understanding chemosensory cells

13.12.2017 | Health and Medicine

Water without windows: Capturing water vapor inside an electron microscope

13.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Cellular Self-Digestion Process Triggers Autoimmune Disease

13.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>