Atlas of a Changing Earth

The documentary, Atlas of a Changing Earth includes data visualizations that were initiated as part of the CADENS exploratory project and are now completed and released as part of Blue Waters activities.  It will take the form of a 25-minute full-dome show as well as a 50-minute flat-screen TV documentary, both planned for international release in 2021. A highlight of the feature film will be the digital elevation mapping done by the Polar Geospatial Center at the University of Minnesota and The Ohio State University; the TV version may also feature Compton J. Tucker’s survey of tree distributions in Africa using DEM data and also carried out using Blue Waters. Leading this effort is Professor Donna Cox and the Advanced Visualization Lab (AVL) team at NCSA. The AVL team has in the past created impactful videos and dome shows such as Birth of Planet Earth, a fulldome planetarium show and 4K science documentary; Seeing the Beginning of Time, a 4K science documentary; A Beautiful Planet, an IMAX 3D Film; and Solar Superstorms, a fulldome planetarium show, and 4K HD science documentary, to name a few.

The Advanced Visualization Lab used Blue Waters to create renderings of the Digital Elevation Model (DEM) data provided by the Polar Geospatial Center and processed on Blue Waters, for the above-mentioned Atlas of a Changing Earth documentary. The specific visualizations rendered using Blue Waters are of the Jakobshavn glacier in Greenland. These visualizations utilize multiple spatial resolutions of the DEM data as well as temporal timesteps. Blue Waters is also used to render the Vavilov ice cap region in Russia, and an ArcticDEM data buildup showing how the data image strips are collected over time.