Latest News – New Rift, Freedom Festival, BSG, Into the Blue, and Digital Awards

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for SeriousGeoGames. A few weeks ago we finally got hold of the brand new Oculus Rift and, thanks to the excellent BetaJester, we have Flash Flood! running in Virtual Reality – we’re biased, of course, but it is truly awesome!

The second bit of news is about your first chance to try it – we’re very happy to have been invited back to Hull’s premier arts and cultural festival, the Freedom Festival, as part of the University of Hull science exhibits in Queen’s Gardens. You will be able to try Flash Flood! VR during the day on Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th September 2016. There will be lots of other great exhibits, and speakers for Soapbox Science.

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Chris demonstrating Humber in a Box at Freedom Festival 2015.

We immediately pack up the kit and get on a train to Plymouth for the annual meeting of the British Society for Geomorphology. Chris Skinner will be demonstrating the application and will also be presenting a talk on the science behind Flash Flood!.

Our next event will be the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) event, Into the Blue at the end of October. We’re really looking forward to this and will hopefully have several sets of kit running Flash Flood! underneath the wings of a Concorde – there will be numerous scientists from the Flash Flooding from Intense Rainfall project on hand to talk about their research (as well as the other 47 exhibits and tours of a research aircraft) – we will post more details soon!

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#NERCIntoTheBlue – A Science Festival under the wings of Concorde!

Finally, but by no means least, we are very pleased to say we have been shortlisted for a Hull and East Yorkshire Digital Award in the Best Use of Technology within Education category. Chris Skinner, Chloe Morris and John van Rij have recorded a small piece for the awards ceremony and we hope to show you that in the near future.

Phew! I think you’re up to date now.

 

SeriousGeoGamer Chloe Morris (@chloemorris_13) wins Prize!

Chloe Morris, a PhD student at the University of Hull, recently presented her research at the British Geological Survey’s (BGS) University Funding Initiative (BUFI) Annual Science Festival. Held at Herriot-Watt University, Chloe’s poster ‘Modelling the Interations Between Coasts and Estuaries’ featured a demonstration of Humber in a Box, and she won the “Best Overall Poster” award and £200.

“I presented my project which focuses on the interactions between coast and estuarine environments and I used the Google Cardboards to show one of the numerical models that I am using to carry out my research” – Chloe Morris

The event aimed to bring together current BUFI students and provide them the opportunity to share their research with each other, staff from the BGS, researchers at Herriot-Watt University, and local sixth-form students.

Chloe’s research aims to couple two numerical models together to simulate interactions between the Humber Estuary and the Holderness Coast. This is important as erosion from the cliffs washes a lot of sediment into the Humber Estuary and this can cause changes to the shape and depth of the Estuary bed, potentially causing problems to things like shipping traffic. Using models like this, Chloe will be able to make predictions of how climate change might effect the Estuary in the future.

Chloe used the Humber in a Box demo and Google Cardboard headsets to demonstrate how numerical models work.

“It’s difficult to explain or show on a poster what a numerical model is or what it does, but the Google Cardboards were a really useful tool that helped me to explain my methods to a mixed audience” – Chloe Morris

Well done Chloe, we look forward to seeing more of your research in the future.

The Origins of TideBox (aka Humber in a Box)

You may know it as Humber in a Box but because we have big plans for the application we are changing the name to TideBox Beta. Whatever the name, TideBox has come from very humble beginnings.

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VR view of TideBox Beta

It all began in the first couple of weeks of my first job after my thesis submission. I was working as a part-time Research Assistant for a project called Dynamic Humber, and my job was to use the CAESAR-Lisflood model to simulate long-term development of the Humber Estuary.

This was half a year before the storm surge of December 5th 2013 and flooding was not on the radar for the research programme – instead we were trying to crack modelling the sediment processes in the Estuary. The model is designed for rivers primarily, so needed to be adapted and tested for use in tidal conditions. I was continuing the work of Jorge Ramirez, and even now this work is ongoing with PhD candidate Chloe Morris leading the charge.

I was asked to present the Dynamic Humber project to the public at the Hull Science Showcase, the forerunner of the massively popular Hull Science Festival. I had no experience of science outreach at all, and only two weeks in the job – with the help of my colleague Sally Little (we were the Dynamic (Humber) Duo), we produced a poster and a short video detailing the programme. They were bad and a great example of how not to do public engagement.

Recently though, the “On This Day” feature on Facebook did trawl up a long forgotten memory for me – part of the video featured an ArcGIS fly through of the Humber Estuary data we were using for the model, including the Humber Bridge towers (very much not to scale). It took a few attempts to fly between the towers! I guess this was the initial inception of what would become Humber in a Box, and hopefully TideBox.

Thanks for reading,

Chris

Flash Flood! Living Manual Update + The GA Conference

We’ve recently made a small update to the Living Manual for Flash Flood! Desktop, providing a brief description and background to the July 17th 2007 flash flood from intense rainfall event at Thinhope Burn. Included is a map of the area, hyetographs of the event, before and after Google Earth images, plus a description of landscape sensitivity theory. All this information will be very useful if you plan on using Flash Flood! in your classroom.

We’ve also made is simpler to download the software, please follow these steps –

  1. Register yourself by emailing us at seriousgeogames@gmail.com providing us your name, where you are (company/institution/school etc) and how you intend to use the software.
  2. You will be sent a link to a OneDrive folder
  3. Download the “setup.exe” file
  4. Double-click the downloaded file and follow the installation
  5. Enjoy!
  6. Don’t forget to give us your feedback – we greatly appreciate your thoughts

The Geographical Association Annual Meeting 2016, Manchester

Lynda Yorke and Chris Skinner on the stand for the British Society for Geomorphology

In other news, we were very pleased to support the British Society for Geomorphology with their stand at the annual meeting of the Geographical Association. We got to show the software to lots of teachers, demonstrating the importance of Geomorphology to flooding. Many expressed interest in using the software, and you can get hold of it following the steps above.

 

Flash Flood! Desktop – Official Launch March 10th 2016

We are very happy to announce we will be launching Flash Flood! Desktop officially on March 10th 2016, at the Early Career Researchers meeting of the NERC-funded Flash Flooding from Intense Rainfall (FFIR) project.

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Flash Flood! was designed to act as an outreach tool for the NERC-FFIR project, and was funded by the project’s Public Engagement fund.

The application places a user inside a virtual river valley as it experiences a catastrophic flash flood. The flood causes massive changes to the geomorphology of the river through processes of erosion and deposition, changing the shape of the river, stripping out plants and trees, and even moving boulders. This is all based on a real event that happened in 2007 on a small river in the uplands of the North of England.

The Flash Flood! virtual valley (left) and Thinhope Burn on which it is based (right)

The Flash Flood! valley is built using data collected by geomorphologists (scientists who seek to understand the changing shapes of the planet’s surface) in the field, both before and after the actual flash flood event, and the animation of the flooding is based on results of computer modelling.

It is expected in the Summer of 2016 that Flash Flood! VR will be available once the latest Oculus Rift and Oculus-Ready PCs have been shipped.

Copies of the software can be made available freely by registering as a user – do this by emailing the SeriousGeoGames (at gmail dot com) Gmail account. We will be progressively adding supporting materials and class guides alongside the software.

Flash Flood! Our new project with @BetaJesterLtd #MadewithUnity

We are pleased to announce that we have started working with developers from BetaJester on our latest project, Flash Flood!

Flash Flood! is being produced as part of the Flash Flooding from Intense Rainfall (FFIR) research programme, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), and is designed to highlight the destructive power of flash floods. This work has taken particular significance in light of the recent flooding in the UK over December.

Flash Flood! will use the latest Oculus Rift headsets, only available on pre-order this week, and is built using the Unity-3D gaming engine. The virtual reality experience will allow you to explore a pristine river valley, and soak up the sun by its pleasant and gentle stream. This changes with the weather, as an intense convective storm darkens the skies and heavy rainfall falls on the upper headlands of the valley. This triggers landslides, cascading debris into the river, trapping flood water before it bursts down the river, swelling the gentle stream into a raging torrent.

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The river valley before  the storm

The river flow, full of stones, rocks, trees and other debris strips the river banks of its plants, and changes the nature of the river and its valley. After surviving the storm, you can then explore the river valley once more and see for yourself the changes it underwent in just a few hours of flooding.

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The river valley after the storm (trees to be added)

The images in this post are very early development screenshots and we think they look great. They are built from data collected in the field and based on an actual flash flood event – we’ll be updating our website shortly to give more details on this.

We’re really excited about Flash Flood! and hope to be bringing to an event near you soon!