NASA’s Perpetual Ocean turns ocean currents into animated art

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center is an unlikely entrant in the SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival. Its “Perpetual World” animation may have failed to appeal to the judging committee of the 2011 edition of the competition, but it sure succeeded in catching our eye. The jaw-dropping animation visualizes the flow of surface ocean currents around the world. The raw data regarding the currents from June 2005 through to December 2007 has been turned into a work of art reminiscent of van Gogh…

The results are presented at a resolution high enough to enable studying ocean eddies and other narrow current systems, which are overlooked by lower-resolution models. These systems play a major role in transporting heat and carbon, and are therefore indispensable to understanding the ocean’s influence on climate.

While ECCO2 provides data on the ocean flows at all depths, only surface flows have been visualized. If the short edition of the animation…is not enough, you may want to look at the longer version available on NASA’s website.

The sum of thousands of satellite photographs. Beautifully edited, a view of our beautiful planet free to flow in natural rhythms. Research as beauty.

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