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Weather Illusion | wind simulation

Wild wind simulation, amazing weather optical illusion here

Tyler Hamilton

Monday, January 7, 2019, 5:29 PM - This isn't an ordinary wind simulation. This mind-blowing computer rendering has a shocking twist.

The science behind it will explain how we can see such stunning detail of the wind fields for earth. Uncover how this creates a giant illusion, below.

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By now, you've watched the video of the mesmerizing simulation.

But, you see the outline of the continents, don't you? Or, rather, your brain created the land masses.

Well, prepared to be amazed...there's no base map of the continents.

Yes, that's right. Go on, watch it again.

The darker the colour, the slower the wind speed, while the brighter colours represent higher wind velocities. This particular set of data comes from the Global Forecasting System (GFS). A lot of real world observations are ingested into the model, and it creates a very realistic wind field simulation for the planet

Your brain is filling in the blanks and allowing you to create an image of the planet with just strictly a wind velocity field. It's pretty incredible stuff. Andrei Kashcha, a data scientist from Seattle, uncovered this wonderful phenomenon, by essentially stitching together daily vector fields of the wind on a global scale.

But, for the the more eye-catching video, he used streamlines, where thousands of particles are dropped into the vector field, and are subsequently used to trace their movement.

Air can flow more freely over water, with less friction than the changing altitudes and topography on land, and of course our anthropogenic changes (buildings etc.). Even though the ocean has waves, compared to land, for all intents and purposes, it's flat. The winds over land become much more turbulent, unstable, and erratic, and face higher coefficient of friction values.

A single snapshot can be transformed into a stunning video simulation upon stitching together snapshots from many days.

SEE ALSO: January's Total Lunar Eclipse is the star for Winter 2019


The rotation of the planet has a profound impact on the movement of low pressure systems, depending on their location in the northern or southern hemisphere. The rotation of the planet is responsible for many large scale features, such as the jet stream, and trade winds. But remember, the coriolis force and pressure gradient force are always in balance.

For those of you wondering why there's a lack of strong low pressure systems near the equator, it's because there is very little deflection near the tropics. The earth rotates much faster at the equator than at the poles, a point on the equator will travel much further, than a point at a higher or lower latitude.

The lack of force is why you don't see strong low pressure systems at the equator. The apparent coriolis force is absent. The coriolis force to too weak to initiate rotation around an area of low pressure, or a tropical disturbance.


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