NASA video visualizes a 'Perpetual Ocean'

Using high-resolution computer animation, NASA creates a two-year time lapse of the world's ocean and sea currents.

NASA computer visualization of ocean currents in the Gulf Stream. NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

NASA has released a computer visualization project called "Perpetual Ocean" that presents a data-created time lapse of the Earth's ocean and sea surface currents over a two-year period.

The animation (see below) shows the globe slowly spinning as white swirls curl and move in the water around landmasses. It looks as if Vincent van Gogh had painted into the oceans -- from the Gulf of Mexico to the Indian Ocean to the Black Sea.

Using NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory's computational model called Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean Phase II (ECCO2), scientists simulated the world's oceans and seas' surface flows from June 2005 through December 2007.

Typically, NASA uses ECCO2 to model global ocean and sea-ice to better understand ocean eddies and other current systems that move heat and carbon in the oceans. The end goal is to study the ocean's role in future climate change scenarios.

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