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a visualization of global weather conditions
forecast by supercomputers
updated every three hours


ocean surface current estimates
updated every five days


ocean surface temperatures and
anomaly from daily average (1981-2011)
updated daily


ocean waves
updated every three hours

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Author Cameron Beccario @cambecc
Modules D3.js
Weather Data GFS (Global Forecast System)
Ocean Currents Data OSCAR
Earth & Space Research
Sea Surface Temperature RTGSST (Real Time Global Sea Surface Temperature)
Aerosols and Chemistry GEOS-5 (Goddard Earth Observing System)
Geographic Data Natural Earth
Hosting CloudFlare
Amazon S3
Fonts M+ FONTS
Mono Social Icons Font
Color Scales chroma.js
Kindlmann Linear Luminance
Dave Green's cubehelix
Waterman Butterfly
Prototype 東京風速
Inspiration HINT.FM wind map

atmospheric pressure corresponds roughly to altitude
several pressure layers are meteorologically interesting
they show data assuming the earth is completely smooth
note: 1 hectopascal (hPa) = 1 millibar (mb)

1000 hPa 00,~100 m, near sea level conditions
850 hPa 0~1,500 m, planetary boundary, low
700 hPa 0~3,500 m, planetary boundary, high
500 hPa 0~5,000 m, vorticity
250 hPa ~10,500 m, jet stream
70 hPa ~17,500 m, stratosphere
10 hPa ~26,500 m, even more stratosphere

the "Surface" layer represents conditions at ground or water level
this layer follows the contours of mountains, valleys, etc.


overlays show another dimension of data using color
some overlays are valid at a specific height
while others are valid for the entire thickness of the atmosphere

Wind wind speed at specified height
Temp temperature at specified height
RH relative humidity at specified height
WPD Wind Power Density
measure of power available in the wind: ½ρv3, where ρ is air density and v is wind velocity
TCW Total Cloud Water
total amount of water in clouds in a column of air from ground to space
3HPA 3-hour Precipitation Accumulation
amount of precipitation over the next three hours
MSLP Mean Sea Level Pressure
air pressure reduced to sea level
MI Misery Index
perceived air temperature as combination of heat index and wind chill
SST Sea Surface Temperature
temperature of the ocean surface
SSTA Sea Surface Temperature Anomaly
difference in ocean temperature from daily average during years 1981-2011
HTSGW Significant Wave Height
roughly equal to mean wave height as estimated by a "trained observer"
COsc Carbon Monoxide Surface Concentration
the fraction of carbon monoxide present in air at the earth's surface
CO2sc Carbon Dioxide Surface Concentration
the fraction of carbon dioxide present in air at the earth's surface
SO2sm Sulfur Dioxide Surface Mass
amount of sulfur dioxide in the air near the earth's surface
DUex Dust Extinction
the aerosol optical thickness (AOT) of light at 550 nm due to dust
SO4ex Sulfate Extinction
the aerosol optical thickness (AOT) of light at 550 nm due to sulfate

about ocean waves

Significant Wave Height is the average height of the highest 1/3 of waves at a particular point in the ocean. There's a great writeup here describing what this means.

Peak Wave Period is the (inverse) frequency of the most energetic waves passing through a particular point, whether wind generated or swells. Certainly, there are many more groups of waves moving through an area, each in different directions, but trying to show them all rapidly becomes complex. Instead, we show the one wave group contributing the most energy. This has the effect, though, of creating "boundaries" between regions of ocean where the #1 wave group suddenly switches to second place. Often these boundaries represent swell fronts, but other times they are just artifacts of the ranking mechanism.

about CO2 concentrations

While implementing the visualization of CO2 surface concentration, I noticed the NASA GEOS-5 model reports a global mean concentration that differs significantly from widely reported numbers. For example, from the run at 2015-11-23 00:00 UTC, the global mean is only 368 ppmv whereas CO2 observatories report concentrations closer to 400 ppmv. GEOS-5 was constructed in the 2000s, so perhaps the model does not account for accumulation of atmospheric CO2 over time? This is simply speculation. I am just not certain.

To bring the GEOS-5 results closer to contemporary numbers, I have added a uniform offset of +32 ppmv, increasing the global mean to 400 ppmv. This is not scientifically valid, but it does allow the visualization to become illustrative of the discussion occurring today around atmospheric CO2. Without question, I would welcome a more rigorous approach or an explanation why the GEOS-5 model produces the data that it does.


GEOS-5 data (covering all Chem and Particulates layers) comes with the following disclaimer: Forecasts using the GEOS system are experimental and are produced for research purposes only. Use of these forecasts for purposes other than research is not recommended.

about aerosols and extinction

An aerosol is air containing particles. Common particles are dust, smoke, soot, and water droplets (clouds). These particles affect sunlight primarily through absorption and scattering, which combine to reduce the amount of light reaching the ground. This loss of light as it passes through the atmosphere is called extinction.

One common measure of extinction is aerosol optical thickness (AOT), which is (the log of) the ratio between the power of incoming light and the power of transmitted light. This helps us understand how "thick" the air is with particulates.

keyboard shortcuts

e show the menu
escape close dialog/menu
k go forward one time step
shift-k go forward several time steps
j go backward one time step
shift-j go backward several time steps
n go to now (the most recent data)
i go up one pressure level
shift-i go up to the stratosphere
m go down one pressure level
shift-m go down to the surface
g toggle the grid on/off
p toggle the animation on/off

The GEOS-5 data used on this site have been provided by the Global Modeling and Assimilation Office (GMAO) at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center through the online data portal in the NASA Center for Climate Simulation

weather and ocean data are generated from numerical models implies no guarantee of accuracy

Copyright (c) 2016 Cameron Beccario