immersion in arctic waters!

Virtual reality is a good way to explore natural spaces that are not or not easily accessible to mere mortals. In Paris, the National Museum of Natural History currently offers visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in the Arctic waters. This playful experience is primarily intended to make the public aware of the changes affecting this part of the world.

An expedition on the theme of arctic waters

The Virtual Reality Cabinet of the National Museum of Natural History (MNHN) closed its doors for several months due to the health situation related to Covid-19. However, it has been open to visitors again since mid-June. As the Institute for Scientific and Technical Information (Inist) explains in a publication, the MNHN . welcomes four months of events around the Poles and more specifically with regard to the Arctic summer.

Since its reopening, the Virtual Reality Cabinet offers an experience called Virtual Arctic Expedition. It allows multiple users to create a expedition in arctic waters for fifteen minutes. Armed with their virtual reality headset, visitors can then enjoy the virtual underwater environment by following an educational scenario.

Capture VR arctic experience
Credits: YouTube screenshot / National History Museum

Raising public awareness of the evolution of the Arctic

The experience offers four different scenes. The first is a tutorial explaining how to interact with the virtual environment. Next, users visit “Sector I”, a specific location in the Arctic, 20 m below sea level. The third scene is the time capsule scene, which teleports the group 150 years later. Finally, the visit ends with another visit to Sector I, this time in 2100.

Besides the interest in meeting whales, belugas, giant jellyfish and other orcas, the aim is to: raising public awareness of current issues related to arctic waters. Sector I’s second visit is a projection of what the Arctic Ocean could look like in the near future. The predictions and other assumptions involved in this VR experience were developed by: scientists expert in marine biology.

Currently, and for several years now, the Arctic warn many scientists just like Antarctica. Recently, an Alaska weather service reported unusual thunderstorms causing a total of more than 1,200 lightning strikes in their path. There is also work from the University of Manitoba (Canada) suggesting that the Arctic’s open water period is extending at a worrying rate.

Here is the presentation video of the Virtual Arctic Expedition experience: