2016 Precipitable Water Animation

I ran into this animation on the interwebs.  It’s a great visualization of atmospheric water vapor in the atmosphere and how it moves from the tropics to the poles.  Water in its various forms, including oceans, lakes, water vapor, clouds, rain, snow, ice, and glaciers, is a major player in weather and thus climate.  It is perhaps the most dominant player besides incoming solar radiation which is the main driver of the weather-climate heat engine.

Keep in mind that this animation does not show liquid water, as in clouds and fog, which are also very important in the weather-climate energy budget.  The air typically has very low water vapor content in the polar regions, allowing other greenhouse gases to have more of an effect than where water vapor is much more abundant, as in the tropics.  However, because of the very cold polar temperatures, clouds, fog, and precipitation still occur there, which somewhat limits the effect of other greenhouse gases in the polar regions.

The Earth web site where this video originated is also a great visualization tool for looking at current, past, and forecast weather conditions, as well as some ocean conditions.  Click on the link below for an example showing the current wind flow and temperature.


When you visit the above link, click on the “earth” label in the bottom left corner to pop up a menu with many options to select.  Also, the J and K keys will step the selected display forward or backward one time step (3 hours).  The weather data displayed is from the Global Forecast System (GFS).  Be sure to give the globe a spin by clicking and dragging.  If you have a mouse, use the mouse roller bar to zoom in and out.


One response to “2016 Precipitable Water Animation

  1. Reblogged this on Climate Collections and commented:
    Fascinating animation. The visualization of the circulations is amazing.

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