A stunning new animated video — produced as a joint project between MIT and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory called Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean — showcases the flow of the world's ocean currents swirling in captivating splendor. The video, titled "Perpetual Ocean," takes an astronaut's view, as if the viewer is in a waltz-like dance orbiting around the Earth.
The flow of the ocean currents in the presentation are derived from real data collected over two years from 2005 to 2007. The visualization does not include a narration or annotations, but is accompanied by a hypnotic soundtrack. The music, together with the Van Gogh-esque swirls in the oceans, generates a mesmerizing, visceral experience for the viewer. Be prepared for the intense desire to press play again.
Data for the video is based on the MIT general circulation model, which synthesizes satellite and in-situ data of the global ocean and sea-ice flow, according to NASA's Science Visualization Studio. Only the surface flows are used in this visualization, but the dark patterns under the ocean represent the undersea bathymetry, the underwater equivalent of topography. Topographic land exaggeration is 20 times and bathymetric exaggeration is 40 times.
More video options are also available for download at the Studio's website, including a 20-minute version of ocean flows at 30 frames per second without the soundtrack, in case you're looking to completely lose yourself (and your day!) in the presentation.
Overall, the video shows just how complex and vital the oceans are, and the intricacy by which heat and carbon is transferred and transported. It's also fascinating to follow the tiny details of the currents regionally. Try imagining yourself as a tiny paper boat and see where they might take you. The exercise may reveal an amazing amount about how connected faraway places really are via the world's ocean currents. It's a global world indeed.