New World Notes posted an interview with Zora Spoonhammer, a Second Life hacker who created an enormous in-world earth model, complete with dynamic weather that’s pulled from real world weather sources:

“Come back up here!” Zora Spoonhammer shouts after him, before he disappears over the horizon. “He’s my husband in real life. He’s silly that way.” She’s a developer in the game industry, she explains, “and I think some of it is women in games don’t get a lot of recognition in the industry as is. So he’s sensitive to that.” On the other hand, few men have wives who build dynamic planets in their spare time.

Sculpty Earth’s model is generated by a C++ program, using USGS elevation data to define the model’s geography. The Earth’s textures are processed and down-rezzed from NASA’s Blue Marble images, and there’s a semi-transparent shell that surrounds the globe, displaying an animated cloud texture. The cloud texture is generated from real-time data and displays the last 24 hours of real life weather history.

Zora talks about a lot of the data sources that were used and links to a few resources for building your own SL models and software. Definately worth a read if you are interested in mapping applications or developing apps in Second Life.

SL Topographic Globe With Dynamic Weather – Link
Blue Marble – Link