Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Stunning Real-Time Surface Wind Map

Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg, leaders of Google's "Big Picture" visualization research group and owners of the Web site, have found an ingenious and beautiful use for the real-time surface wind data compiled by the National Digital Forecast Database.

Using the NDFD -- which is explicitly a database "available for members of the public to use in creating text, graphic, gridded and image products of their own"  -- Viégas and Wattenberg created a animated, zoom-able map that displays, in real-time, surface wind speeds across the United States.

The Real-Time Wind Map

The end result has gained positive attention from multiple media outlets, including CNET, MIT's Alumni News site, and io9 and is hypnotizing to watch.

Here is one public user's experience with the site.

The NDFD, a product of the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, consists of "gridded forecasts of sensible weather elements (e.g., cloud cover, maximum temperature)" and "a seamless mosaic of digital forecasts from NWS field offices working in collaboration with the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP)."

The National Digital Forecast Database (NDFD) was designed to provide access to weather forecasts in digital form from a central location. 

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