A visualization of ocean currents

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio has put together a video that is a visualization of surface ocean currents. The data is from June 2005 through December of 2007. Resolution is fine enough to show ocean eddies and detail in the broader currents.

Aside from how clearly the gulf stream stood out, the number of ocean eddies were a surprise to me. They seemed to pile up on the east coast of continents, which I guess makes sense since that is the side where the rotation of the Earth piles up water in general. The string of eddies off the tip of Africa and into the South Atlantic was also striking.

It is an interesting video. The complexities of the ocean currents give an entirely different feel to Earth from the cloud-centric views we are used to seeing. In some ways the oceans currents reminded me of cloud patterns on the gas giants.