Nov. 20 - Using satellite data collected over eight months, NASA scientists have created a compelling time-lapse view of the dust, smoke and sea salt that continually swirl around the earth. Rob Muir reports.
NASA's animated portrait of aerosol movement around the Earth simulates the atmospheric impact of real events over an eight month period from August, 2006. A massive storm over the Sahara desert, blows a dust cloud, coloured red, all the way cross the Atlantic Ocean over a period of two months Sea salt, coloured blue, swirls constantly around the poles but forms pin-pricks of colour as it gets sucked into the vortices of Atlantic hurricanes and Pacific typhoons. Fires in central Africa and southeastern Australia release carbon, coloured green, into the atmosphere. Data produced by satellite and ground based instrument measure the dust particles, sea salt and carbon that make up 90 percent of all aerosols lifted by the wind over the entire planet. An eruption from the Karthala volcano on Gran Comore Island of southeastern Africa spews a burst of white sulphate into the air. The portrait was produced by researchers using a supercomputer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight center, to help scientists and the public better better understand how aerosols travel in the atmosphere and influence weather and climate. By taking the data from tens of million of observations, NASA modelers are able to move Earth forward or backward in time to create a dynamic portrait of the planet.