“The Blob” in 3D: portable immersive 3D visualization of the warm anomaly

Albert J Hermann, University of Washington, Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean, Seattle, WA, United States
A warm surface and subsurface anomaly in the Northeast Pacific (aka “the blob”) spanned multiple years (2013-2016) and created unique conditions with persistent biological impacts, which have included the displacement of commercially important fish species along broad stretches of the North American coastline. While it received wide press coverage, public education regarding this feature can in fact be substantially enhanced by a shared, game-like immersive stereo visualization, where the audience is given the opportunity to "drive" through the 3D ocean. In this interactive visualization, physical and biological fields such as temperature are rendered using time-evolving iso-surfaces, which viewers rotate and examine from multiple viewpoints. Modern developments in hardware and software have placed this technology within the financial means of the individual earth scientist; portability expedites its rapid deployment for science outreach at schools and public events.