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App of the Month: Earth's Crust - Exaggerate TopoBathy Elevations

December’s App of the Month, Earth’s Crust – Exaggerate TopoBathy Elevations by Michael Kelly of Teck Resources Limited, is a fun and exciting way to explore the bumps, nooks and crannies on the earth’s surface from afar. The goal of the app is to ignite curiosity while illustrating the world in an unconventional manner. Explore some of the earth’s most complex topographic features or a local landscape through the Earth’s Crust app.

Earth’s surface has been carefully forged over hundreds of million years by glaciers, volcanoes and plate tectonics. These natural phenomena are to thank for the beautiful and complex landscapes we know today. Many people love exploring land topography including mountains, valley and lakes; however, how often do we get to explore ocean topography?

Oceans are one of mankind’s biggest mysteries. They cover 70% of the earth’s surface and yet only 5% of oceans have been explored by humans. The ocean floor also contains dramatic features including hills, mountains and valleys, which contribute to Earth’s complex topography.

The Earth’s Crust – Exaggerate TopoBathy Elevations app is an exciting way to explore both land and ocean features. Users are able to visit infamous topographic features from around the world, including Mount Everest and Marianas Trench, or explore local landscapes in their area.

When first opening the application, you are greeted with a global view of the earth’s surface where the vertical exaggeration is set to x100. The continents become elevated and many ocean features are highly visible. This view automatically grabs your attention as it’s not common to see exaggerated topography from afar like this.

Michael Kelly, geospatial solutions specialist at Teck Resources Limited, says he built this app because “we rarely see a digital map which illustrates the ocean floor from afar. This means that most people are unaware of what it looks like and how much it varies. By exaggerating the elevation, we can actually see the bumps, nooks and crannies of the ocean floor.”

The application is equipped with many exciting features that were created using ArcGIS API for JavaScript within ArcGIS Online and Web Scene. As you pan the scene, the elevation of the map centre point is displayed in both metres and feet. The user also has the ability to adjust the vertical exaggeration using a slider in the bottom right corner.

While panning the map, it is unlikely you will ever run out of places to explore; however, if you do, the app is equipped with a Shuffle widget that introduces you to some of Earth’s most interesting topographic phenomena. Click Shuffle to be whisked away to Nepal’s infamous mountain range, Marianas Ridge or the Philippines Trench. You will gain a new understanding of the phrase “living on the edge”.

Michael also used ArcGIS API for JavaScript to update the app URL parameters as you pan the map and customize the map view. The URL parameters update to showcase the map’s current x, y, z coordinates, basemap and vertical exaggeration. This way, the user can bookmark areas of interest and revisit them later or share them with friends.

Learn more about ArcGIS API for JavaScript in this blog post: What’s new in the ArcGIS API for Javascript (July 2020)

The application incorporates several layers from the Living Atlas. Users are able to tour the globe while investigating Sea Surface Temperature, Land Temperature, Sea Floor Geomorphology and Population Density. My personal favourite layer is the TopoBathy Elevation Tinted Hillshade, where elevation is portrayed as an artistic multidirectional backdrop with vibrant colours. The Hillshade layer allows you to truly appreciate all the unique topographic features found among Earth’s surface.

The Living Atlas hosts countless maps, apps and data layers from Esri and thousands of other organizations. It allows you to combine content with your own data to create new maps and applications just like this one.

Stay up to date on Living Atlas news here: ArcGIS Living Atlas Articles


Do you have an outstanding, publicly accessible ArcGIS-based app? Get it featured in the Esri Canada Blog as our App of the Month in 2021. Submit your app today

About the Author

Madison Mackey is a GIS Storyteller at Esri Canada. She discovered her passion for GIS while completing her undergraduate degree in Environment and Resource Science. Her goal is to inspire others to consider The Science of Where as an important factor when planning and problem solving in their community. Madison loves the accessibility of GIS and how it encourages citizen scientists to engage with spatial data and uncover insights concerning topics that are important to them. She believes that the possibilities of GIS are endless and that there is always more to explore and learn.

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