Data Driven Digest for September 11: Clouds

There’s big news at OpenText this week: Big Data Analytics is now available on the OpenText Cloud. This exciting event got us thinking about actual clouds – you know, the kind up in the sky – and other things that fly through the air. Not surprisingly, there are countless great data visualizations related to clouds and weather, so it was tough to choose just three to share.

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Swirling Winds: Cameron Beccario (@cambecc) has created a stunning animated visualization, called simply earth, that does a beautiful job of presenting diverse atmospheric data. The visualization blends four data sources – weather conditions, ocean currents, ocean surface temperatures, and ocean waves – each of a different time interval. Click on the word “earth” in the lower left corner of the screen, and controls pop up (as shown in the screenshot above) that let you control the resulting visualization. By the way, the care Beccario takes to document his work is as impressive as the visualization itself.


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Fly-By: Weather radar systems are (obviously) designed to monitor and record weather. But scientists at the European Network for the Radar Surveillance of Animal Movement (ENRAM) have developed ways to use meteorological technology to monitor bird migration.  Last summer they developed a proof of concept (screenshot above) showing bird movement in the Netherlands over just a few days. The idea has taken off (so to speak), and now biodiversity scientists at the Netherlands Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO) are exploring ways to use weather instruments to track other species. Check out the POC, and read more about the work on the INBO blog.


Data Flow: For Californians in a drought, no meteorological phenomenon is more important than El Niño. Warming waters in the Pacific Ocean affect the weather worldwide, and often help to bring needed precipitation to the western United States. In an effort to understand this year’s El Niño, Matt Rehme of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) released a video comparing the epic 1997 El Niño with the one brewing this year. The result (embedded above, and linked here) demonstrates both the weaknesses and strengths of video for data visualization. One obvious shortcoming is that you can’t explore the data in depth; you just let the image flow by. But ease of consumption and sharing are a video strength; indeed, Rehme’s video has been viewed some 61,000 times in less than a week.

 

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