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Terrain Rendering for GIS applications


For terrain rendering applications that work on remote sensing data, e.g. GIS applications, it is useful to allow the terrain data to change dynamically. For example, elevation data from different sensors can be compared or combined, or data sets from different points in time can be compared to analyze changes. Furthermore, some elevation data sets might require processing at visualization time, e.g. to fill holes with data from other data sets, or to remove unreliable parts of the data.

Dynamically changing terrain data poses several challenges to terrain rendering. Continuous level of detail (CLOD) techniques cannot rely on precomputed information since the geometry for the current view of the scene is not known a-priori. Instead, an adaptive mesh has to be created and/or refined on the fly using only the dynamically generated elevation data and little additional information.

Furthermore, most measured terrain data sets are given relative to the reference ellipsoid, not relative to a plane, and they cannot be transformed to a simpler reference geometry without loss of information. Accurate rendering of such data thus needs to be based on the reference ellipsoid. This poses several challenges that are often neglected in the Computer Graphics domain.

Example video of zooming in on the area around Rome, with several overlayed remote sensing data sets and dynamic terrain data changes: normal mode and wireframe mode.

Free source code for accurate rendering of planetary-scale, dynamic terrain data is available at https://marlam.de/ecm.

This research project was partially funded by grant KO-2960-3/1,2 from the German Research Foundation (DFG).

The well known NASA Blue Marble Next Generation (BMNG) data set. You are looking onto the University of Siegen.
The area around Rome. The geometry is a mixture of two elevation data sets.
Zooming further in around Rome.
Wireframe of dynamically adapting mesh.


Articles/Journal Papers

[bib] - M. Lambers - Survey of Cube Mapping Methods in Interactive Computer Graphics
In The Visual Computer, 36(5), 2020, pages 1043-1051 - [pdf]

Conference Papers

[bib] - A. Dimitrijević, P. Strobl, M. Lambers, A. Milosavljević, D. Rančić - Distortion Optimized Spherical Cube Mapping for Discrete Global Grid Systems
In Proc. Int. Conf. Information Society and Technology (ICIST), 2020, pages 109-113 - [pdf]


Articles/Journal Papers

[bib] - A. Dimitrijević, M. Lambers, D. Rančić - Comparison of spherical cube map projections used in planet-sized terrain rendering
In Facta Universitatis, Series: Mathematics and Informatics, 31(2), 2016, pages 259-297 - [pdf]

Articles/Journal Papers

[bib] - M. Lambers - Mappings between sphere, disc, and square
In Journal of Computer Graphics Techniques, 5(2), 2016, pages 1-21 - [pdf]


Conference Papers

[bib] - M. Lambers, A. Kolb - Ellipsoidal Cube Maps for Accurate Rendering of Planetary-Scale Terrain Data
In Proc. Pacific Graphics (Short Papers), 2012, pages 5-10 - [pdf]


PhD Thesis

[bib] - Martin Lambers - Interactive Visualization of Remote Sensing Data
In Phd Thesis, University of Siegen, 2011 - [pdf]


Articles/Journal Papers

[bib] - M. Lambers, A. Kolb - Dynamic Terrain Rendering
In 3D Research, 1(4), 2010, pages 1-8 - [pdf]


Conference Papers

[bib] - M. Lambers, A. Kolb - GPU-Based Framework for Distributed Interactive 3D Visualization of Multimodal Remote Sensing Data
In Proc. Int. IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS), 4, 2009, pages IV-57 - IV-60 - [pdf]