3D Earth: Rainforests

Photo by Rob Nelson

San Francisco (February 5, 2016) — Starting today, visitors can explore global views of the rainforest like never before with 3D Earth: Rainforests, an all-new, live 3D show at the California Academy of Sciences. From towering canopies to the lush forest floor, follow Academy scientists as they explore the biodiversity and global impact of these rich, tropical environments. Along the way, don a pair of 3D glasses and march with a colony of leafcutter ants to see how these hardworking insects transport nutrients and turn over soil, hang from branches with a sloth to learn how its slow-moving lifestyle provides a habitat for algae and fungi, and visualize the planetary influence of rainforests through satellite observations of our living planet.

This 20-minute show will play several times daily in the Academy’s Forum Theater and features the voices of Academy scientists whose research takes them around the world to study these incredible yet fragile ecosystems. Real-world imagery from space provides a global perspective on the impact of rainforests on Earth’s water, energy, and carbon cycles, illustrating the critical need to conserve these vital systems that help to power our planet. Each show will feature a live, presenter-led exploration of current rainforest conservation work and research, including the most recent NASA data.

Through vivid 3D graphics, learn about the dynamic structures and systems found within rainforest ecosystems, discovering how every species plays an essential role in the vast network of life. Throughout the show, hear Academy scientists’ surprising stories from the field and share in their discoveries. Trek along with Academy entomologist and ant expert Dr. Brian Fisher to learn how tiny leafcutter ants consume more foliage than any other herbivore in the Amazon basin, turning over all the soil in an entire rainforest every 200-300 years. Get a whole new perspective on plants with Academy botanist and canopy scientist Dr. Meg Lowman, who has spent her career high in treetops discovering the abundant biodiversity above our heads.

Taking audiences far beyond stunning views of the Amazon rainforest, the show will also explore the inextricable connection between rainforests and humans—from indigenous communities whose livelihood depend on these ecosystems, to a global population that relies on rainforests to regulate climate. Advanced satellite imagery visualizes the growing human footprint and staggering deforestation over just the last few decades—as well as conservation success stories on both a local and global scale. Viewers will leave empowered to take sustainable actions to help protect these critical ecosystems.

Following each show, viewers can venture into the Academy’s four-story Rainforests of the World exhibit for an even more immersive experience. While exploring the rainforest ecosystems of Borneo, Madagascar, Costa Rica, and the Amazon, marvel at free-flying birds and butterflies, walk through a flooded Amazon tunnel, and learn more about Academy scientists and their work in the field.

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