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Gaze Deeply Into This NASA Visualization of Global Aerosol Movements

Turns out Earth is just a big lava lamp.

by Michael Byrne
Dec 12 2017, 2:30pm

On Earth we live in the midst of a swirling atmospheric maelstrom. It's generally a more benevolent maelstrom than that of, say, Jupiter, but things are swirling around nonetheless.

NASA's Global Modeling and Assimilation Office released the above visualization last month. It's based on a combination of computer simulations and satellite data and shows the flow of aerosolized particles—sea salt, sand, smoke, dust—carried around the globe by atmospheric currents. It shows the period from July 31 to November 1 of this year.

Hurricanes are visible here mostly because they whip up sea salt from the surface of the ocean, but in some cases they carry around Saharan sand and forest fire smoke as well. Hurricane Ophelia, for example, was able to carry sand all the way from the coast of Africa into Ireland and the UK.