COOL IMAGES: As the World Turns

Science  14 Apr 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5464, pp. 223
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5464.223a

Say “climate modeling” and your eyes may glaze over envisioning scientists feeding reams of data into a supercomputer, all to arrive at a single number: Earth may warm X degrees in the next century. But atmospheric scientists also transform their models into movies, the better to “quickly ingest a huge amount of data visually to get an overall sense of what is happening”—and to make their work easier to grasp for the rest of us, says Tim Scheitlin, a visualization whiz at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). For example, here is a frame from an animation modeling how lightning (white) zapping the air generates nitrogen oxides (blue) that then feed reactions creating tropospheric ozone (green)—the stuff better known in polluted cities as smog. Visit NCAR's visualization gallery to see dozens of other eye-catching simulations, from El Niño ocean warming to churning cyclones to a rotating Earth that reddens as it heats up over 120 years.

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