Layerscape is a cloud-based earth visualization tool built by Microsoft Research on the same technology as their WorldWide Telescope. The focus is on scientific visualization, with the ability to create three-dimensional virtual tours of the earth and ocean, with transparency of layers to go above and below the Earth’s surface, and to plot spatial data over time and place.
Layerscape is being used by earth scientists in such disciplines as geology, climatology, oceanography and glaciology, to study, analyze and visualize massive amounts of data. Scientists are also able to build predictive models in areas such as climate change, health epidemics, and oceanic shifts. In Arizona, state geologist Lee Allison is using Layerscape to create detailed models of the state’s landscape to help policymakers manage groundwater, map geothermal resources, and more.
“With Layerscape, we can look not only across the surface and bring in all the geologic maps,” he says. “We’re also bringing in the subsurface data—the millions of boreholes, water wells, oil and gas wells—and looking down in 3-D and bringing that information together to create a 3-D visualization that we’ve never been able to do before.”
The video below gives an overview, with interviews of ocean scientists and geologists: