Cartophilia (something to pore over)


Click on the image. Wait. Watch and be mesmerised by this visualisation by of current wind flow over the USA. It’s a tremendous way to get a feel for the shape of the weather. Something similarly hypnotic and revealing of weather patterns is the animation of global total precipitable water (that is, atmospheric moisture content) from the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies at the University of Wisonsin-Madison. I haven’t embedded it because it’s a big animation, but it’s well worth a few bits of bandwidth.


The Carbon Map is another tour de force of data visualisation — changing the shapes and sizes of countries on a global map to show how they measure on a number of indices: area, population, wealth, historic emissions, current emissions, carbon reserves and so on. The image I’ve grabbed shows the exposure of countries to sea level rise. More about the map and its creation at the Guardian.

Updated to add this amazing NASA animation of global ocean currents over 2005/7. Just look at those whorls spinning off the bottom of Africa…

The Wizard turns on…

Catching up with some of the stuff that got lost in the Copenhagen hubbub, this morning I stumbled on a major new effort to provide interactive climate data and visualisations — the Climate Wizard. This amazing tool is the web front end to a collection of temperature and precipitation data and model projections, and allows the user to create custom maps of climate change over the last fifty years, and projections for the 2050s and 2080s for three IPCC scenarios across 16 models. It provides state-level detail for the USA, but coarser regional and global maps for the rest of the world. It can also create ensembles of model projections on the fly:

[Lead author] Girvetz recommends using one of the newest features added to the program, the ability to create an ensemble of some or all of the 16 models. Want to average the temperatures of, say, the 12 climate models that forecast the largest temperature increases? Climate Wizard can do so almost instantaneously. [Source]

The background to the Wizard (a joint effort of the University of Washington, University of Southern Mississippi and The Nature Conservancy) is described in this PLoS One paper.

Apart from being a very interesting way of looking into temperature data and projections, it is also a tool set that can be extended by the addition of extra data: the authors suggest they could include “simulations of global vegetation, fire, water runoff, species range shifts, agriculture, sea level rise, heat stroke, disease, and food security.” They also suggest that the Climate Wizard could provide a basis for web “mash-ups” with services like Google Earth/Maps to help with public education on climate change. Highly recommended.

[Flaming Lips]