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May 28, 2011

GigaBlitz Will Turn High-Resolution Images of Nature Into Global Inventory of Organisms, Habitats

During the week of this year's summer solstice, June 18-24, people worldwide are being urged to create gigapixel imagery of this natural environment as part of the first Nearby Nature GigaBlitz.

As envisioned by a trio of biologists and their partners at Carnegie Mellon University's CREATE Lab, the GigaBlitz would involve scientists, students and amateur naturalists in a global effort to reveal the extraordinary biodiversity of the ordinary settings where people live, learn and work. Details about GigaBlitz are available at http://science.gigapan.org.

"Many people have become acquainted with the concept of a 'BioBlitz,' which is a short, intensive period in which scientists and citizen volunteers attempt to identify every living species within an area, such as a park," said Ken Tamminga, professor of landscape architecture at Penn State University and one of the event organizers. "GigaBlitz will extend that idea beyond one designated area to include any natural habitat on Earth within range of a camera."



Participants are asked to create gigapixel panoramas, or GigaPans, of nearby habitat during the solstice week of June 18-24. GigaPan is a technology developed by Carnegie Mellon and NASA that combines hundreds of digital photos into a large panorama that can be interactively explored via computer. More than 5,000 GigaPan camera systems, which can be used with virtually any digital camera, are in use worldwide and available commercially through GigaPan Systems Inc.

Each participant would upload their GigaPans of nature in their neighborhood to the GigaPan website where they and other participants can share in the process of identifying all of the plant and animal species visible in the images. The best panoramas, as selected by a jury, will be published in the online GigaPan magazine.


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