ESRL Global Systems Division

GSD at the 5th Science On a Sphere® Users Collaborative Network Workshop

The 5th Science On a Sphere® (SOS) Users Collaborative Network Workshop, co-hosted by NOAA and the Aquarium of the Pacific, with support from the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, was held from Tuesday through Thursday, November 6 – 8, 2012 in Long Beach, California at the Aquarium of the Pacific. The Earth System Research Laboratory/Global Systems Division/Technology Outreach Branch (ESRL/GSD/TOB) SOS Team, led by TOB Chief Dr. William B. Bendel, was in attendance for the complete workshop and played an integral part in its success. There were 52 institutions represented at the workshop, with attendees coming from six countries.

The theme of the workshop this year was "Science & Storytelling," which was highlighted through all the presentations. The SOS Team led a session "Update from Boulder," which included an overview of all the work that has been completed since the last workshop and an outlook for what is coming next for Science On a Sphere. The SOS Team also presented individually in several other sessions through the three-day workshop and helped provide technical support for all the presentations utilizing the Aquarium of the Pacific's Science On a Sphere. Many of the sessions were "How To" classes that provided specific training for SOS users in content creation, playlist editing, storytelling, and maintenance. A range of keynote speakers from across disciplines including a Hollywood director, a writer, a scientist, and an artist helped to further reinforce the theme of "Science & Storytelling." The SOS Team is now back in Boulder, energized by the enthusiasm and spirit of collaboration at the SOS Users Collaborative Network Workshop.

SOS is a large visualization system that uses computers and video projectors to display animated data onto the outside of a sphere. It was invented by Dr. Alexander "Sandy" MacDonald, Director of NOAA/ESRL in Boulder, Colorado and OAR Deputy Assistant Administrator for NOAA Research Laboratories and Cooperative Institutes. Dr. MacDonald came up with the concept for SOS in 1995 as an outgrowth of other visualization projects he was directing within the former Forecast Systems Laboratory. The SOS Program is administratively and technically housed in ESRL/GSD/TOB.

Researchers at NOAA continue to develop and advance SOS as an educational tool to help illustrate Earth system science to people of all ages. Animated images of atmospheric storms, climate change, and ocean temperature can be shown on the sphere, which is used to explain complex environmental processes in a way that is simultaneously intuitive and captivating.

SOS is a NOAA program that has developed a revolutionary system for educating the public on the holistic nature of Earth's ever-changing oceans, atmosphere, and land. SOS presents NOAA's global science in a new and exciting way by providing an engaging three-dimensional representation of our planet as if the viewer were looking at the Earth from outer space.

SOS extends NOAA's educational program goals, which are designed to increase public understanding of the environment. Using NOAA's collective experience and knowledge of the Earth's land, oceans, and atmosphere, NOAA uses SOS as an instrument to enhance informal educational programs in science centers, universities, and museums across the country and globally. SOS is available to any institution and is currently in operation at 85 facilities in the United States and around the world.

Contact information
Name: William Bendel
Tel: 303-497-6708
William.B.Bendel@noaa.gov