Thursday, May 14, 2015

Earth Flows

The earth is about 8,000 miles in diameter and is sheathed by a comparatively very thin layer  of fluids that are critical to the balance of energy. As I tell students, without the oceans and atmosphere, the equatorial regions would be getting hotter and hotter while the poles got colder and colder. The equator is hotter than the poles, of course, but not hotter and hotter.

This image was captured at 7am on Thursday, May 14. The lines show wind direction at the surface, indicating the importance of flows toward and away from coastlines. The colors indicate temperature and show the importance of continentality. At this early hour of the day, land masses remain cooler than the oceans, and high elevations are cooler than low.

This image is from a project known as Natural Earth, an artistic rendering of winds or currents overlaid on data about speed, temperature, or pressure. From the very simple main page, click on the word "earth" for a menu of options that include mapping high-altitude winds or shifting backward or forward in time.
Full-disk image captured shortly after the regional image shown above.
Whatever parameters you choose, the flowing map reveals patterns that are both beautiful and informative.

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