We imagine the ocean as having high tides and low tides, water that comes in and out in waves. Beyond that, how does water actually move around the world? What’s that flow look like?
NASA Scientific Visualization Studio assembled this remarkable animation of the surface currents of our oceans. It’s called Perpetual Ocean, and the full work is 20 minutes of HD video, assembled from a huge amount of satellite, on location, and computational data generated by ECCO2 (Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean, Phase 2). ECCO2 itself exists to better understand our oceans and their role in the changing global climate.
What you’re looking at is the surface current flow (not anything deeper) of oceans around the world, recorded from 2006 to 2007. The white lines are the currents, and the darker blue colors of the water represent bathymetry (the fancy word for misnomer “ocean topography”).