Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 08 Issue 02

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Volume 08, No. 2
Pages 52 - 58


Virtual Reality in Oceanography

By G.H. Wheless , A. Valle-Levinson, and W. Sherman  
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First Paragraph

As humans we see and relate to the world around us in three dimensions, yet as scientists we usually attempt to understand our data by portraying it in visual form as a plot or a picture. These two-dimensional portrayals of inherently three-dimensional processes are often difficult to understand in a total context due to the size of the data fields or the complexity of the system being portrayed. “Virtual Reality” (VR) is a methodology by which human beings interface with multidimensional environments created from computer-based data. VR allows us to view and interact with three-dimensional data in a three-dimensional environment and provides an actual sense of presence that can inherently change the way we analyze the data. In short, an artificial three-dimensional world is created based on a data set of interest which one is then able to enter, navigate through, and directly interact with. The data may be from recorded observations, computer simulations, or from artistically crafted models. The device providing an interface with the data may range from simple two-dimensional display systems like a workstation screen to more sophisticated user-immersive three-dimensional systems. In all cases, the data must be visualized in some fashion and the user should be able to manipulate or otherwise interact with the displayed imagery. The addition of auditory and tactile feedback can be used to enhance the feeling of presence, and give the user more information about the (virtual) world.


Wheless, G.H., A. Valle-Levinson, and W. Sherman. 1995. Virtual reality in oceanography. Oceanography 8(2):52–58, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.1995.19.

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