3 Mar 2017
In our workflow we heavily use the open source GIS software QGIS. One strength of QGIS is its extensibility with plugins. While playing around with a plugin called Qgis2threejs, we created this 3D map of Death Valley. It shows how several high mountain chains are shielding the valley from rainy clouds coming from the west to form one of the driest and hottest places on earth.
As a first step, we downloaded the appropriate SRTM3 files from https://dds.cr.usgs.gov/srtm/version2_1/SRTM3/. We then used the Generic Mapping Tools to create a single .grd file. You can import this .grd file as a raster layer in QGIS. We used the same altitude colors that we use for our physical maps to colorize the 3D image. The options we’ve choosen are shown in the image Qgis2Threejs Options below. Now just click Run and the 3D image gets opened in your default web browser where you can scale, pan and rotate the map until you get the desired view.