Visualization of the week: The world wind map

In order to make the WeatherSignal blog more exciting, and mainly because we’re dataviz nerds, we’re now going to be doing a weekly post on our favourite data visualizations from around the internet – in order to justify quite how much time we spend talking about them. Our inaugural data-visualisation for 2014 is one that ties in extremely well with what we’re doing here at WeatherSignal – presenting live weather data in new and interesting ways. Mapping (almost) live wind patterns across the world ties in perfectly with our project to make pressure readings more granular – and is a particularly beautiful way to visualize the global weather system.

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This visualization by Cameron Beccario gives a beautiful perspective on the atmospheric topography of the earth. Make sure you check out the site itself, especially the different ways you can visualize the earth’s surface. Based on data collected by the NCEP/National Weather Service/NOAA this visualization beautifully renders the movement of wind across the world’s surface, with an easily comprehensible colour-code to denote speed. What makes this visualization so successful is the way it demonstrates the inter-connected nature of the global weather system, illustrating the sloughs and troughs of pressure that drive the air’s movement.

By emphasizing the fact that weather is a global system the earth wind map shows exactly why weather forecasting is such a difficult process – with so many different contributing factors producing the specific atmospheric conditions we experience. This is something we hope to be able to improve on using the data we collect from WeatherSignal, more granular pressure readings should lead to more accurate short term storm forecasting. For now, though, just enjoy playing around with this great interactive map. Last I checked there was a storm whirling happily off the coast of Madagascar, if only this map also showed the recklessly fluttering butterfly that caused it.

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