Citizen Science Goes Full-Tufte

by infraredbiped

A beautiful visualization of global wind forecasts is making the rounds of tech blogs and getting lots of deserved attention. (Al Gore complemented the work on the author’s twitter feed!) I made a screen grab of North America to give an idea of what the visualizer looks like, but it’s much better to visit the site itself.

Screenshot of

Wind conditions over North America, Dec. 26, 2013 (

The interesting thing is that the author, Cameron Beccario, is not an atmospheric scientist, but he is a serious professional programmer who knows how to access and reduce public data. Beccario did great work here, implementing a particle tracker to show the wind conditions at several different pressure surfaces using several different map projections. He is also cool enough to pay it forward, posting his code on github for others to view and access. Check out his README to see the annoying hoops he had to jump through to get the projections to display properly.

The data visualization is accomplished using the D3 JavaScript Library. The D3 website is worth checking out on its own. Looking at the examples gallery I feel like I’ve crawled inside Edward Tufte’s brain.