Understanding the impact of climate change through graphs and reports is a tedious task for most of us. However, a stroll in the woods showcasing the changes it’s bringing will undoubtedly be far more helpful.
Researchers at Penn State are experimenting with virtual reality to help people connect with how forests may change as the climate turns warmer.
“To ground a conversation, and then potential decision-making, in something that’s graspable, that’s visceral,” said Alex Klippel.
Klippel and his team have created a prototype of a VR forest inspired by a forest in northern Wisconsin. The users are transported into the virtual woods through a VR headset. They can look up at the sky, down at the sun-dappled ground, and even hear birds chirping.
“We can create a visceral, embodied experience,” Klippel added.
Detailed data about the tree and plant species in the forest and projections of how warmer, drier conditions could affect them have been incorporated into the tech. For instance, extinction or stunted growth of some species such as balsam fir and white ash has been depicted through the experience.
Furthermore, the users can zoom in on each species to reveal more information about them. They can also switch views between how the forest looks today and how it would look several years into the future.
Immersive experiences are far more effective in explaining stuff compared to just facts or data. Klippel believed that the experience could get people thinking about the effects of climate change in a whole new way.
Follow us on LinkedIn
Read other Articles