Remember that beautiful swirly picture of the earth that NASA released, which looked like van Gogh had been let loose in the control room? It was called Perpetual Ocean and it used data from ocean flow to create an animation showing the earth’s oceans spinning in a mass of churning white and blue.
Now the space agency have been at it again with a data viz video that shows how particles move around the planet and affect the climate. To gather data NASA relies on the 30 million daily observations made of the earth from satellites, along with balloon-borne and ground-based instruments—but these alone can’t give a complete picture, instead they take to climate modelling to fill in the blanks.
Using the power of mathematics and supercomputing, they shift the earth back and forward through time to create a changing portrait of the atmosphere and to better understand the earth’s climate. The video below, Paint by Particle, is from NASA Goddard’s Global Modeling and Assimilation Office and shows how winds whip aerosols around the world. The result is a portrait of the planet that you rarely get to see.
Such simulations allow scientists to better understand how these tiny particulates travel in the atmosphere and influence weather and climate. In this visualization, covering August 2006 to April 2007, watch as dust and sea salt swirl inside cyclones, carbon bursts from fires, sulfate streams from volcanoes—and see how these aerosols paint the modeled world.
Originally published on The Creators Project. Republished with kind permission.