Mountains of Data

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Science  17 Aug 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6096, pp. 793-795
DOI: 10.1126/science.337.6096.793

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After dozens of Himalayan journeys, David Breashears began to notice that the glaciers were in rapid retreat. In 2007, Breashears formed GlacierWorks, a company that's creating an interactive Web site to allow viewers to navigate Himalayan landscapes constructed from terabytes of high-resolution images. Breashears and his GlacierWorks colleagues are now working with computer scientists and image experts at Microsoft Research to augment the images with numerous other layers of scientific data and models. Viewers will be able to peruse vistas from photos taken at eye level and learn about hydrology and how glaciers accumulate, lose ice, and flow down mountainsides. They'll also be able to manipulate climate models to see the effects on glacial melting and river flows in decades to come.