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After seeing links to it over and over on my dash, I had to see what the fuss was all about. And - WOW - what an incredible "gigapan" image of Mt. Everest. The image is 2 gigapixels, which is huge. I picked out a few interesting ones, including a cave, weird geology, a peak, and tents.

My colleague Prof. Brian Helmuth of USC and I tried out his gigapan equipment this past summer in the Netherlands, but alas, we kept running out of time. You can see some of his gigapans of ocean/shore ecosystems, here.

A Gigapan system is really a simple robot on a tripod that you mount your camera on to. It’s not difficult, but does take a lot of time to set up. The robot pivots up and down, taking several pictures in sequence. Once it’s finished, software stitches the photographs together. Anyone can do it. You can see bigger(!) gigapan pictures of Paris, Dubai, Machu Picchu, etc., here.

This picture of Mt. Everest is part of climate research project, documenting the effects of climate change on the mountain. From The Guardian:

Filmmaker and climate-change campaigner David Breashears spent this spring taking around 400 images of Everest and its near neighbours from a vantage point above base camp through a 300mm lens. Now he’s released them digitally stitched together to form one image – click here to see the full image.

The result is a stunning panoramic photograph of the Everest region – with a twist. You can zoom in on specific areas and see the roof of the world in extraordinary detail. From a distance small colourful dots mark the location of base camp. Zooming in, you can pick out each tent clearly – and a man bending down as he washes his face.

The high definition also allows viewers to examine the mountain’s icefall – and even pick out climbers descending between terrifying ice cliffs and crevasses. Think of it as an extreme, alpine version of Where’s Wally.

Breashears, who turns 57 tomorrow, set up GlacierWorks ( five years ago to produce imagery highlighting the impact of climate change in the Himalayas. He knows Everest well, having directed the hit IMAX film about the peak and reached the summit himself five times.

But even he finds himself poring over his creation with renewed interest. “I find things I’ve never noticed before, especially on how climate change is affecting the mountain.”

By comparing his panorama with photographs from the 1950s, Breashears has been able to pinpoint just how much ice is gone from the mountain: “There are 49,000 glaciers in the Himalayas and most are showing a dramatic and accelerated melt rate.”

Via The Guardian

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