The U.S. National Weather Service monitors the virtual world:

NOAA Teaches About Weather in Second Life

Map of NOAA island in Second Life
NOAA map of NOAA Island in Second Life
Imagine... These and other virtual adventures are attracting large numbers of avatars, according to the U.S. National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

An avatar is a graphic representative of a person in a 3D virtual reality world. In this case, NOAA, which includes the National Weather Service (NWS), was one of the first United States government agencies to move onto an island in the rapidly growing online world of Second Life (SL).

Experiential learning. NOAA's Earth System Research Lab (ESRL) developed the SL site so users could have experiences in the virtual world they probably could not have in the physical world.

From those experiences, they would learn about the cutting-edge science that NOAA conducts regularly.

Second Life is a 3D virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents, according to its developer, Linden Lab, of San Francisco. It has many millions of inhabitants from around the real world, and its population is exploding.

What are virtual worlds?      What is Second Life?      Small gallery of SL images      How to sign up

Many SL residents are new to NOAA science. According to NOAA, 35 percent of the first few thousand visitors said they had not previously heard of the U.S. agency.

NOAA's islands in Second Life are named Meteora and Okeanos. Meteora is a Greek word meaning "things suspended in the air," one way scientists refer to atmospheric phenomena.

How to get there from here. Second Life is on the Internet. To enter and travel there, Linden Lab requires users to sign up for a free account and install free viewer software on their computers.

A URL is an address for a website on the Internet. SLURL is short for Second Life URL. A SLURL is an address for a place in Second Life.

NOAA's two islands are located at these SLURLs:

Meteora »      Okeanos »

Finding the future. Recruiting the next generation of Earth scientists is a priority for NOAA, thus the experimentation with science and public education in Second Life to excite a new audience.

Scientists can collaborate on research, hold virtual meetings, and give public presentations in NOAA's SL auditorium.

The climate change scenarios depicted on the SL islands: Bringing data to life. Science on a Sphere offers dramatic visualizations of planetary data, including a mesmerizing view of nighttime lights around the globe and a 3-D panorama of ocean, sea and lake depths.

In the future, the sphere may display a full view of Mars, a storm-after-storm replay of the 2005 hurricane season,and animations of global warming.

Second Life is not a game. SL doesn't have points, scores, winners, losers, levels, an end-strategy, or most of the other characteristics of games. Instead, it is a semi-structured virtual environment where characters undertake social, cultural, political and economic activities for personal enjoyment, fulfillment or financial gain.

Some visit Second Life to escape from RL – their real world – and have fun exploring and social internetworking, while others view Second Life as useful for education and for-profit businesses.

Adult residents of Second Life age 18 and up are limited to their vast main grid while teen residents 13-17 are limited to their smaller teen grid. There is no Second Life grid for persons under 13.

What is NOAA. The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration is an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department. In 2008, NOAA celebrated 200 years of science and service to the nation.

Grown from the Survey of the Coast established in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson to the formation of the Weather Bureau and the Commission of Fish and Fisheries in the 1870s, a lot of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA.

NOAA describes its job as enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of the nation's coastal and marine resources.

Through its Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with other federal agencies as well as more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop an integrated global monitoring network coveringthe entire planet.
Source: The U.S. National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

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