Many people do not see a direct connection between the releases of energy by the sun and the currents of the oceans and winds that flow on Earth. But, there is a direct link between them. Last week, NASA published this animation which shows how that connection works. The sun is shown releasing an explosion of energy called a coronal mass ejection toward the Earth. The Earth is usually shielded from the worst effects by its magnetic field. The Earth is also constantly exposed to light and radiant energy from the sun. Much of this energy is redirected by the atmosphere. Clouds, ice and snow also reflect much of it back into space. What gets absorbed drives the Earth's climate.
The solar heating is uneven due to the variations of the surface. Heat flows from high to lower temperatures. This fact, and the cycles of day and night, and changes in surface heating due to the seasons cause wind currents to circulate around the world. These persistent winds drive surface ocean currents. One of these important currents is flowing off the coast of Florida. It is the Gulf Stream. This river of warm waters is a major factor that drives the climate of the Atlantic and the British Isles.
This 4 minute video is best viewed in full screen mode. It highlights the connection between the energy of the sun and the dynamics that drive this component of the climate of the Earth.
For more about this video, come below the swirl of currents.
An annual conference, SIGGRAPH, that presents and publishes the best in computer graphics and technical research chose a NASA excerpt from the presentation, "Dynamic Earth: Exploring Earth's Climate Engine," as one of its select entries of 2012."'Dynamic Earth,' the show is also going around the world," says Horace Mitchell of NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio (SVS). "It's currently being dubbed into Spanish, Arabic, Turkish and Greek."
The Association for Computer Machinery's Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques is known as SIGGRAPH and is widely considered the most prestigious forum of its kind.
"Major Hollywood studios submit pieces, so there is a high standard," says Joshua Grow, SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival Chair, Los Angeles. "Clearly NASA has exceeded that standard with their submission."
The full-length "Dynamic Earth" presentation is narrated by actor Liam Neeson and illustrates how equilibrium between Earth's climatic systems sustains life and what could happen if the balance is tipped.
The immersive 24-minute, ultra-high resolution, full-dome show is a joint production of NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio (SVS) in Greenbelt, Md., Spitz Creative Media in Chadds Ford, Pa., the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Ill., the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Colo., and Thomas Lucas Productions in Ossining, N.Y.
The show is now playing at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., at the Museum of Science and History in Jacksonville, Fla., and will launch at the Museum of Science, Boston, Mass., this summer. The show has also been licensed to more than 20 schools, museums and other locations.
The 2012 SIGGRAPH conference and exhibition takes place Aug. 5 to 9, 2012 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The "Dynamic Earth" excerpt will be one of only 31 presentations featured in its "Electronic Theatre" during the Computer Animation Festival.
The 4 minute visualization above was also published June 19 as the 100th story for the award-winning NASA Viz iPad application. If you own an iPad, I recommend this app. Another app you will enjoy if you are a space geek is called simply NASA. With it you can access NASA TV, launch schedules, the latest science, videos, and much more. It is one of my most valued apps. I use it all the time.