New Fodar Earth Engine Online

For the past six months, I have been working Todd Smith at AGI to build a better virtual globe.  Their technology, Cesium, is an open source 3D virtual globe viewer written in HTML5, such that no application installation is required.  I found the lack of an application installation especially useful for government clients and scientists who have cumbersome IT departments to deal with.  The result is an awesome globe, now showing about 80% of the project areas I’ve mapped.  Now that the challenges of serving terrain and imagery are conquered, the next updates on the list are: show time-series of imagery and terrain, make measurements and profiles on the globe, and show raw point clouds.

To announce the success, AGI issued this press release yesterday:


Professor in Alaska Maps Impacts of Climate Change on Cesium-Based 3D Globe

Fairbanks, AK, USA (April 28, 2015) Dr. Matt Nolan, research professor at University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), utilizes Analytical Graphic, Inc.’s (AGI) Cesium platform to display high resolution, 3D topography mapping environmental changes in his web-based, custom globe:  FodarEarth™(

Dr. Nolan has logged 50,000 miles flying over Alaska, mapping topographic change on the centimeter level, and has amassed almost a terabyte of imagery and terrain data, including mines, glaciers and environmentally sensitive areas. His company, Fairbanks Fodar, commercializes a cutting edge photogrammetric method he developed at UAF which turns his aerial photographs into topographic maps to better understand the impacts of climate change in Alaska, and provides mapping solutions for entities including the National Park Service, USGS, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Alaska Department of Transportation, and National Geographic.

In order to bring this huge data set to the public, AGI’s team implemented the Cesium services that leverage Amazon Web Services (AWS) as a mechanism to store, process and host all of Dr. Nolan’s data. The processed imagery and terrain is served as WMTS imagery and quantized mesh terrain services, which the Cesium services layer into FodarEarth.

“When we first learned of Dr Nolan’s data sharing needs, we saw that Cesium was an obvious because of the super high resolution terrain and 3D visualizations his work required,” says Todd Smith, AGI director of geospatial technology.

Dr. Nolan hopes that his methods will bring awareness to politicians, land managers and community at large of how dynamic the earth’s surface is and how valuable such information can be to them.  The next step for the Fodar – AGI partnership is to display a time-series of topography to measure and visualize changes.  Optimistic about these possibilities, Dr. Nolan says, “With Cesium, anyone with an internet connection can see for themselves the impact that climate change is having on our topography, and this will hopefully stimulate them to consider what may be happening in their own backyards.”

About Cesium

Cesium provides time-based geospatial 3D visualization in a browser without a plugin. Analytical Graphics, Inc. (AGI) is the incubator of the Cesium team and is the founder and primary contributor to the open source project. The Cesium team also builds off the shelf software products to enable the rapid dissemination of geospatial data. For more information, email

Contact: Stephanie Eftimiades; 610.981.8531

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt