Saturday, June 21, 2014

Animated Earth Graphics

I'm a bit late to this one. Slate had a story last December, with links to earlier. My hat tip is to Robert Scribbler.

Followers of this blog will know that I experiment with new programming methods to try to visualise Earth data. So I was very interested to come across Cameron Beccario's nullschool site. It uses Javascript to display information from the NCEP Global Forecast System. As such, it emphasises what is current (now, the last few days, and the next few).

It is very systematically laid out. The GFS model gives data for many kinds of variable, and many levels of the atmosphere, and these are all laid out. It updates every three hours. There is also SST data, and ocean currents, less frequently. I found it a bit hard to navigate for lack of explanatory words, but it's logical.

The animated aspect is mainly an overlay of wind motion. It's important to remember that this is a static field. It shows as if particles are tracking the wind, but the wind doesn't change.

It shows a large variety of projections, which is interesting. I think there is nothing better than a sphere that you can change the viewpoint, and that is the default. He doesn't use WebGL, so it isn't a trackball, but functional enough.

He has made the code available. It is an assemblage of many utilities, which I find hard to follow, but seems very profesionally done.

It's a different emphasis to mine - I'm mainly trying to give access to historic data, while this is very much current. But I'm sure there is a lot to learn from it.

Here's the opening picture.
And here is wind with sea level pressure.
Ocean current animation
Currents with SST Anomaly
Tomorrow's temperature.

It's all on a 1° grid. You can magnify with the mouse wheel.


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