GEO. Realtime technology

Some examples of realtime technology in earth science.


Earth science is to a large extent involved with events which take place daily on the planet. These include earthquakes, eruptions, storms, avalanches and many other hazards. The Internet provides a means of not just reporting such events, but also of presenting scientific data and information more or less as they take place. Measurements of many other less spectacular natural events and phenomenon can now also be put on the Web in realtime. These include information on the weather, the oceans´ surface and the solar wind. As a result we get an exciting and at the same time much truer view of the world than books can convey. We also get a global view of the world in a way never before possible. Experience some of the possibilities in Global Earth Science


Netcams. These are simply video cameras pointed at something interesting. At intervals - sometimes every second, sometimes every few hours - the image is digitized and goes out on the Internet. The picture you see on your browser either updates automatically, or you are asked to use the reload button regularly. Entertaining??!! examples have included cameras aimed at street traffic, coke machines and people eating in cyber cafes. Many sites offer a small and larger image format, so things load pretty quickly. But what have earth scientists aimed their cameras at? Try these two examples

Popocatepetl, Mexico - Very active Mexican volcano, situated very close to the city.

Data logging. Data logging has been around for a long time and is simply the automatic recording of all kinds of measurements in computer form. Examples are automatic weather stations, river monitoring instruments and tilt meters on the slopes of volcanoes. The new element is that now it is possible to put the data directly on the WWW so that it can be seen in realtime. Many academic and research institutions are now doing this, both as a means of communicating the data and for educational purposes. Have a look at this very high tech example from the Space Center, NOAA.

Robots and machines These are robots which you, the end user control via your browser, usually with buttons. You will need a pretty good Internet connection and computer to get anything of practical value out of these. A simple example is the controllable video camera aimed at Mount Fuji in Japan. This allows you to change the camera position and use the zoom control. As it happens this active volcano is not erupting at present, but you never know - better start practising with that camera!

For a hybrid example making use of the latest techology and the older, try this "seismocam" at UNRSL, Nevada.

This is an interesting combination where a video camera simply digitizes an image of a conventional drum-recording seismograph. Any tremors should be easily visible. You can also see past images, so you don´t need to look at it for hours on end! They also have some stuff about the workings of it all if you are interested in that side of things. Of course there are also much more sofisticated examples of realtime earthquake data. Have a look at the Dewey Realtime Links. (551.2)

 If you want a break try the remote controlled toaster (in Australia!). Unfortunately the toast is also virtual.



These pages maintained by Dr Georg R Douglas, Hamrahlíđ College, 105 Reykjavík, Iceland.