This Global Wind Map Is Mesmerizing

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Dec. 18 2013 4:40 PM

Mesmerizing Map Shows Which Way the World's Winds Are Blowing

Cameron Beccario's interactive global wind-speed visualization, "Earth."
A screenshot of Cameron Beccario's interactive global wind-speed visualization, "Earth."

Screenshot / earth.nullschool.net

Last year, designers Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg brought us the “Wind Map,” an artistic visualization of wind patterns across the United States.

Now their map has inspired another Web developer, Cameron Beccario, to adapt the concept to a global scale. Beccario started with a wind map of Tokyo, where he lives. Then he took on the world. You can see his animated map at earth.nullschool.net.

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Using data from the Global Forecast System, Beccario’s map updates every three hours, showing near-current weather patterns worldwide. You can spin the map like a globe, zoom in on a particular region, or just soak in the oddly soothing sight of the neon lines steadily making their way across the globe. One takeaway: If you think the winds are bad over land today, check out the ones sweeping across the seas.

Global Wind Map 2
The Pacific Ocean is not looking very pacific today.

Screenshot / earth.nullschool.net

Another takeaway: The waters around Antarctica do not look like a pleasant place to sail.

Global Wind Map 3
Antarctica is surrounded by swirling gyres associated with the cicumpolar current.

Screenshot / earth.nullschool.net

As the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang points out, you can also use the map to get a broad view of specific weather events making news around the world. The Weather Gang matched up the map to last week’s Middle East snowstorm and the Norwegian winds so strong they knocked people down.

Beccario told me he liked Viégas and Wattenberg’s U.S. wind map so much that it inspired him to learn Javascript so he could make his own. He has posted his own code on Github for others to explore.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.

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