December 20, 2012
Stunning Gigapixel Image Shows Mt Everest In Extreme Detail
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
Filmmaker David Breashears has created a spectacular, two-billion pixel zoom image of Mount Everest to show the effects of climate change in the Himalayas.
Breashears captured 477 individual images to compose the gigapixel panorama of the Khumbu glacier from the Pumori viewpoint near Mount Everest. The images were obtained this spring from a vantage point above base camp through a 300-millimeter lens.
Although it´s a notorious view, few have seen Everest in such an up-close way.
The interactive image lets viewers zoom in on a specific area in extraordinary detail. Small colorful dots denote the location of base camp. Zooming in, viewers can clearly see each tent, along with a man bending down to wash his face.
“It's just extraordinary and we're so excited by that image, and people love clicking on things and zooming in,” Breashears told the Daily Mail.
The high-definition image also allows viewers to examine the mountain's icefall — and even see climbers descending between harrowing cliffs and crevasses.
Breashears, 57, created GlacierWorks five years ago to produce imagery that captures the impact of climate change in the Himalayas. A climber himself, Breashears is quite familiar with Mount Everest, having reached the summit five times and having directed the popular IMAX film about the famous peak.
But even he finds himself discovering new things through his latest creation.
"I find things I've never noticed before, especially on how climate change is affecting the mountain," Breashears told The Guardian.
By comparing his image with photographs from the 1950s, Breashears said he has been able to pinpoint just how much ice has disappeared from the mountain.
"There are 49,000 glaciers in the Himalayas and most are showing a dramatic and accelerated melt rate,” he told Guardian Reporter Ed Douglas.
“We want to tell the bigger story of climate change in the area, and we are working with Microsoft and the Royal Geographical Society on this.”
Breashears said he hopes to develop a far larger version of the panorama, one detailed enough that viewers can actually zoom inside tents at base camp.
“Just 1/100th of our imagery is on the site, and the storytelling possibilities are incredible - people love to move things,” he told Daily Mail reporter Mark Prigg.
“It started out as a simple concept, and every time we visit we find out more - this is not even the tip of the iceberg, we want to take people all over the mountain with 120,000 pictures from a helicopter in the region.”
“We are building this with Microsoft, and we could soon be able to combine the old and new pictures so people can virtually 'swipe' images to see how they looked in the past.”
Additional glacier images can be viewed at the GlacierWorks website.