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Researchers Relying on VR to Highlight Rising Sea Level Dangers

Relaying the message of climate change effects can be a challenging task as the rate of impact is quite slow. Sea level rise is one factor that can have a severe effect.

Technology has been used to showcase the effect of climate change on our world in the past, and the trend is continuing. Individuals around the world are slowly gaining awareness about the possible damages that can come from ongoing climate change.

VR for showcasing the future impact

In the latest development, some researchers have put in efforts collectively to harness virtual reality technology for showcasing the future impact of sea-level rise vividly. The project aims to highlight the effects of rising sea levels on coastal cities such as Santa Cruz. Viewers get a glimpse of how their homes may be impacted by the same.

The research team comprises many professionals from institutions such as the Lemann Center at Stanford, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, the Nature Conservancy, Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, Virtual Planet Technologies and the city itself. It explored the possibilities of using VR as a tool for conveying the issues related to sea-level rise. The research study was published in the journal Water on May 13.

First of its kind

Juliano Calil, Senior Research Fellow, Middlebury Institute of International Studies Center for the Blue Economy, is also the project’s lead researcher. According to him, the virtual reality experience will be the first of its kind enabling individuals to observe how their communities may look in the future, and how they can prepare for such change.

Calil, who began his career as an IT consultant, shifted his focus to the path of helping to protect the planet.  He left his job to get a PhD in Ocean Sciences from UCSC. Calil had put in some effort to observe the effect of king tides on the Santa Cruz coast. Whilst doing so, he came to the realisation that cutting-edge visuals could be used along with drone technology to highlight the effects of coastal sea-level rise.

According to Calil, the PhD programme has helped him find another way of communicating many of the problems that arise due to changing climate conditions.

Virtual Planet Technologies

Virtual Planet Technologies is a venture started by Calil when he was enrolled in his PhD course. Based out of Santa Cruz, the climate technology company works towards creating innovative immersive solutions to initiate conversations regarding rising sea levels. A notable solution provided by the company is the Sea Level Rise Explorer Framework. It is a virtual reality experience encompassing several U.S. coastal cities such as Santa Cruz and Long Beach.

Calil has joined forces with Tiffany Wise-West for the ongoing Santa Cruz project. Wise-West, Program Manager, Resilient Coast Santa Cruz, is focused on formulating methods for combatting climate change effects on the city’s coastline. Virtual reality is a big part of the initiative as a mode of communication.

According to Wise-West, the technology helps to show a more realistic view of climate change for residents.

 

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