Ever wondered what the wind would look like if you could see it in action from above? You’re about to find out.
A new project posted online Wednesday by a pair of Google computer scientists, called simply Wind Map, has to be clicked on to be believed.
The wind information, updated hourly from the National Weather Service’s forecast database, is portrayed as white and grey strands, almost like sand or rivulets of mercury.
It can be quite hypnotizing to watch the gusty trails blast across the American continent, skitter over the Sierras, get roughed up by the Rockies, and whoosh over the great plains on its way to Canada. (Which seems to give as good as it gets, sending most of its wind towards New York.)
Wind patterns are constantly changing, of course, which is why the Wind Map designers have also given us a moving-image gallery of previous blustery days.
Wind Map is the brainchild of Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg, the co-leaders of Google’s “Big Picture” visualization research group in Cambridge, Mass. The pair have previously visualized Wikipedia and Google searches.
No word on whether we’ll see the Wind Map in Google Earth any time soon, but the pair do say they want to expand it to the planet — and are looking for any source of global wind information.
What do you make of the Wind Map? Is this something you’d like to see more of? Does it change how you think of the potential for wind energy, as its creators hope? Let us know you thoughts in the comments.