RECENT LOCATIONS

Close
Add a location
Edit your saved locations

Climate models track colourful particles to puzzle out weather patterns


Staff writers
November 18, 2012 — What looks like a living painting is actually one of the many ways NASA uses for climate modelling.


The different colours represent different types of particles. Courtesy: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Centre
The different colours represent different types of particles. Courtesy: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Centre

NASA scientists call it "Paint by Particle," a whimsical name that downplays the complex amount of calculations needed to paint this picture.

Those colourful streams you see in the video above, provided by NASA Goddard's Global Modelling and Assimilation Office, are different types of particles, blown around by the earth's winds.

These particles move around Earth's atmosphere, scientists can puzzle out how they affect weather and climate over time.

With these models, the stream of dust (red) from Africa over the Atlantic may affect the formation or intensity of hurricanes.

Sea salt (blue) sucked into Pacific Ocean typhoons may appear as bright dots in the centre of the storms.

Fires across Africa and South America spew black and organic carbon (green) into the atmosphere.

And the white particles, representing sulphates, can be used to track the progress of volcanic eruptions, among other things.

NASA says climate models such as these are based on more than 30 million daily observations of the atmosphere by satellites, weather balloons and ground-based detection sites.

Sign in or Sign up to submit a comment.




Comments





Take your weather with you, no matter where you go.

Get instant forecasts and alerts, right on your computer.

  • RSS & Data
Add weather updates to your website or RSS reader.