↑ Return to Animations


Satellites track wind, water, and other atmospheric variables to gain insights on weather patterns and improve predictions.

This animation shows a sequence of GOES images of Hurricane Bonnie, followed by a fly-in to the hurricane showing the three-dimensional structure of the precipitation as measured by the Precipitation Radar instrument on TRMM on August 22, 1998. In this animation, a surface of constant precipitation is colored by the value of the precipitation on the ground under the surface.

These compelling images are from Hurricane Bonnie showing a cumulonimbus storm cloud, towering like a sky scraper, 59,000 feet (18 kilometres) into the sky from the eyewall. These images were obtained on Saturday, 22 August 1998, by the world’s first spaceboarne rain radar aboard the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM). By comparison, the highest mountain in the world, Mt. Everest, is 29,000 feet (9 kilometres) and the average commercial jet flies at barely one-half the height of Bonnie’s cloud tops. Scientists believe that towering cloud structures like this are probably precursors to hurricane intensification. This was the situation with Bonnie whose central pressure dropped from 977 millibars to 957 millibars in the subsequent 24 hours.

Source: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

A fly-in to a set of nested 3D isosurfaces of constant precipitation density for Hurricane Bonnie, measured by TRMM on August 22, 1998. The isosurfaces are removed one by one until only the highest density surface remains, then the surfaces are restored in reverse order.

Source: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

This visualization was created in support of the “Recipe for a Hurricane” live shot campaign. This is a visualization of Hurricane Erin on September 10, 2001. This is the main section of the visualization that shows the GOES and TRMM/VIRS based cloud tops (extruded), the TRMM/PR based rain isosurface, and the CAMEX/Dropson based heat isosurface. This visualization was match-frame rendered to two other visualizations (winds and isosurfaces) and was intended to be shown edited together.

Source: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

Hurricane Erin was positioned off the coast of the United States on September 10, 2001. This animation shows the strength and direction of wind by animating small arrows. Faster-moving arrows represent stronger winds.

This animation represents a single measurement taken by the SeaWinds instrument on the QuikSCAT satellite, taken at 14:27:00 UTC on September 10, 2001. The Web Map Services version of this animation, which is available through the SVS Image Server (<http://aes.gsfc.nasa.gov>), presents this animation with a different timestamp for each frame in order to more easily present the images as an animation. It should be noted that each frame really has a time stamp of 2001-09-10 14:27:00 UTC.

Source: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

27 Storms: Arlene to Zeta (includes audio)

Many records were broken during the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season including the most hurricanes ever, the most category 5 hurricanes, and the most intense hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic as measured by atmospheric pressure. This visualization shows all 27 named storms that formed in the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season and examines some of the conditions that made hurricane formation so favorable.

The animation begins by showing the regions of warm water that are favorable for storm development advancing northward through the peak of hurricane season and then receding as the waters cool. The thermal energy in these warm waters powers the hurricanes. Strong shearing winds in the troposphere can disrupt developing young storms, but measurements indicate that there was very little shearing wind activity in 2005 to impede storm formation.

Sea surface temperatures, clouds, storm tracks, and hurricane category labels are shown as the hurricane season progresses.

This visualization shows some of the actual data that NASA and NOAA satellites measured in 2005-data used to predict the paths and intensities of hurricanes. Satellite data play a vital role in helping us understand the land, ocean, and atmosphere systems that have such dramatic effects on our lives.

NOTE: This animation shows the named storms from the 2005 hurricane season. During a re-analysis of 2005, NOAA’s Tropical Prediction Center/National Hurricane Center determined that a short-lived subtropical storm developed near the Azores Islands in late September, increasing the 2005 tropical storm count from 27 to 28. This storm was not named and is not shown in this animation.

“27 Storms: Arlene to Zeta” played in the SIGGRAPH 2007 Computer Animation Festival in August 2007. It was also a finalist in the 2006 NSF Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge.

Source: NASA.

This visualization shows 3D volumetric water vapor data from the Aqua/Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument. As the camera moved down and around the data set, the low data values are faded out revealing only the highest concentrations of water vapor data. The color and opacity at each 3D voxel are driven by the water vapor data. The data set was obtained by Aqua on January 1, 2003. Only data from the sea level to about 10 km are shown. This visualization was created to support a Jet Propulsion Laboratory press release about how assimilated AIRS data is improving global atmospheric simulation model forecasts by about 6 hours (from about 5 days to about 5 days and 6 hours).

Source: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio