An Insanely Beautiful Visualization of the Polar Vortex

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Brian Resnick
Jan. 29, 2014, 7:02 a.m.

How could something so beau­ti­ful cause something this ugly

The GIF above was gen­er­ated by the data visu­al­izer “Earth.” Click here to see the full in­ter­act­ive ver­sion. On the site, you can zoom in and out of dif­fer­ent areas on Earth and visu­al­ize winds at dif­fer­ent alti­tudes. And it has a hyp­not­ic ap­peal. The lines rep­res­ent the mo­tion of stra­to­spher­ic wind as it churns air down south. The closer to­geth­er the lines, the faster the wind. It’s not real-time con­di­tions; rather, it’s a fore­cast based on su­per-com­puter weath­er mod­els. 

It’s a re­mind­er that even something so miser­able as a 15-de­gree walk to work in the morn­ing can be made beau­ti­ful by a data sci­ent­ist.

(NASA Goddard / Flickr) NASA Goddard / Flickr

(NASA God­dard / Flickr)But even viewed from less dy­nam­ic per­spect­ives, the po­lar winds re­tain their beauty (from space at least). NASA took this photo Tues­day of what it af­fec­tion­ately calls an “arc­tic blanket” that is hov­er­ing over the United States. 

h/t Dis­cov­er Magazine


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