AHM2007: Best paper (Jon Blower) – Virtual globes Hurricanes and penguins

Jon Blower was awarded the best paper at AHM2007 . This is an an outstanding example of escience where SIMPLE technology is brought to bear on multiple datasets, each of which by themselves does not carry a message but the combination does (http://www.resc.rdg.ac.uk/publications/Blower_et_al_Virtual_Globes_final.pdf)

Virtual globe technology holds many exciting possibilities for environmental science. These easy-to-use, intuitive systems provide means for simultaneously visualizing four-dimensional environmental data from many different sources, enabling the generation of new hypotheses and driving greater understanding of the Earth system. Through the use of simple markup languages, scientists can publish and consume data in interoperable formats without the need for technical assistance. In this paper we give, with examples from our own work, a number of scientific uses for virtual globes, demonstrating their particular advantages. We explain how we have used Web Services to connect virtual globes with diverse data sources and enable more sophisticated usage such as data analysis and collaborative visualization. We also discuss the current limitations of the technology, with particular regard to the visualization of subsurface data and vertical sections.

JOn showed some stunning slides and animations, which had the theme of combining datasets
He showed Keyhole Markup Language (KML) which supports simple geographic features – points, lines, polygons, etc.  Successful because it’s NOT trying to do too much. It enables the mashups between the datasets – the common frame of reference. And it, together with the software is all Open (unlike the Google Earth mashup approach).
Hurricane Katrina – satellite meterology mashed with hurricane intensity showed unexpected Sea cooliing  which was critical to understanding the effect of hurricanes in mixinf hot and cold sea.
A mashup of penguin tracks (through radio transmitters) with satellite chlorophyll showed that the penguins circulated round areas of high chlorophyll – presumably in the ocean (?).
The message is that we need open data, open standards and code, simple, universal technology for visualisation.
Critical to fund the data exploration area.
So did the recent Hurricane Felix cause the sea to cool? Apparently much less than Katrina from his movie. But this is real eScience commenting on today’s events of world importance.

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