|Atul Naya, LOOKING Program Manager, and Debi Kilb, Science Director for the Visualization Center at Scripps, study hurricane Katrina transposed over global topography on a 100 megapixel display.
Image courtesy of LOOKING
?Sometimes you find things you?ve never seen before,? says Orcutt. ?When you need answers you don?t want to wait till you get back; it really helps to be able to share your data and pictures to solve problems. The downside is you never escape from the office.?
Underwater eyes for all
Another bonus of this distributed system is that much of the real-time data are publicly available.
It?s fun to see where our ships are and what the weather is like,? explains Orcutt. ?It?s easy now to make that information available to everybody. And it?s then very simple to extend that to the ocean floor. This will be a great tool not just for research, but to encourage the public to be interested in our oceans.?
And public awareness, says Orcutt, is the key to generating support for action to solve growing environmental problems, including climate change and overfishing.
?We?ll need the support of citizens all over the planet,? he says. ?We want people to say ?we need to know about greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide, acidification?? Most people have enjoyed a vacation at a beautiful reef or beach. They can understand concern about rising ocean temperatures.?
Orcutt?s personal passion is seismology and the structure of Earth beneath the ocean floor, but he says biology, and especially microbial biology, is the major research frontier in the oceans and what gets most people fired up about LOOKING to sea.
Rise of the jellyfish
?Biology and the genome will be an extraordinary thing for our future. Oceans contain most of the life on the planet, but we know five percent or less of the species that live in the ocean.?
?We know that our oceans are changing. We?re seeing more jellyfish, bacteria, harmful algal blooms,? he says. ?Using remote instrumentation we can now learn more about how life is reacting to the slow warming and increasing fishing pressures.?
?We already have thousands of sensors and are growing very rapidly. The incremental cost of adding an extra sensor is getting smaller and smaller. The resolution of data and information that can now be achieved is breathtaking. This provides the very small-scale resolution we need to study details.?
Funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation, LOOKING has been working with real time data and distributed and wireless systems for more than five years, and is continuing to develop its capabilities.
?We?re in a very interested place in history and it?s time to take advantage of what?s going to happen in the commercial world with this kind of technology,? says Orcutt. ?That?s critical to create the kind of change we as scientists rely on to be able to exploit these novel, consumer technologies.?
- Cristy Burne, iSGTW