National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2000

VRML techniques and tours: 3D experiences of oceans and atmospheres

Moore, C.W., N.N. Soreide, A. Hermann, C. Lascara, and G. Wheless

In Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on IIPS for Meteorology, Oceanography, and Hydrology, AMS, Long Beach, CA, 9–14 January 2000, 436–438 (2000)

The Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML) has changed environmental data mining into an interactive process by giving the user new dimensions. By adding depth perception, temporal evolution, and the ability to interact with data VRML has proved itself to be a valuable tool to the environmental scientist. VRML is a file format which allows users to access, navigate, explore, and interact with environmental data in 3-D on the Web, and to share this multidimensional experience with colleagues in remote locations. VRML is platform independent, available to PC users as well as those working on high-end workstations, and viewers or plug-ins are freely available for popular Web browsers, such as Netscape or Internet Explorer. We will present web-based interfaces that support interactive, 3-D visualizations of oceanographic data drawing on such diverse oceanographic studies as hydrothermal vents, ocean circulation, air-sea interactions, and El Niño studies. The techniques available for scientific data visualization using VRML will be enumerated, and resources for those interested will be given. Demonstrations include real-time El Niño/La Niña data from the TAO network of El Niño monitoring buoys in the tropical Pacific Ocean, Fisheries Oceanography model output animations, hydrothermal plumes from sea floor volcanic eruptions, and global gridded data sets.

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