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

View Issue TOC
Volume 08, No. 2
Pages 52 - 58


Virtual Reality in Oceanography

G.H. Wheless A. Valle-LevinsonW. Sherman
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.

Copyright & Usage

This is an open access article made available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution, and reproduction in any medium or format as long as users cite the materials appropriately, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate the changes that were made to the original content. Images, animations, videos, or other third-party material used in articles are included in the Creative Commons license unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If the material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission directly from the license holder to reproduce the material.