Watching the Planet Breath

Posted by – October 15, 2017

Based on data from the Orbiting Carbon Observatory – 2 (OCO-2), NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio has produced a remarkable animation of how carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is produced and absorbed over the course of a year – in essence, showing how the Earth breathes:

OCO-2 observations have been improving our understanding of CO2 sources and sinks since its launch in 2014. However, nothing lasts forever: OCO-2 was designed for a 2-year mission and will eventually fall out of orbit. NASA has proposed a highly economical solution of assembling its replacement, OCO-3, from spare parts and placing it on the International Space Station, but the administration’s current budget proposal includes no funds for OCO-3.



Posted by – September 6, 2017

Cameron Beccario has created earth, a viewer for global weather data that can be used to create images like this, a rendering of surface winds in the North Atlantic as Hurricane Irma approaches Cuba:

According to the website, earth is a visualization of global weather conditions forecast by supercomputers updated every three hours, including ocean surface current estimates updated every five days, ocean surface temperatures and anomaly from daily average (1981-2011) updated daily, adn ocean waves updated every three hours.

Thanks to Steve for the tip,


P.S. And to all my friends deploying with Red Cross: be safe, and I hope somebody thanks you every day for doing the work that you do.

Holiday Greetings 2016

Posted by – December 28, 2016

Cheryl Berkowitz reimagined the New York City subway map as a menorah, creating a unique Hanukkah greeting card for the New York Transit Museum and the xAnalytica Holiday Graphic for 2016:

(If you squint just right and count all the bridges, you do in fact come up with nine lines connecting Brooklyn to lower Manhattan). Runner up was the Economist’s Advent Calendar of info/data graphics.

xAnalytica’s Happy Holidays Graphics from previous years:

Happy Holidays!


  • Comments Closed


Posted by – December 4, 2016

In 2013, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) assessed sixteen categories of infrastructure ranging from airports to wastewater treatment plants and gave the U.S a D+ grade for its $3.6 trillion of overdue maintenance and a pressing need for modernization. ASCE notes that America’s cumulative GPA for infrastructure rose slightly to a D+ in 2013, ranging from a high of B- for solid waste to a low of D- for inland waterways and levees. Solid waste, drinking water, wastewater, roads, and bridges all saw incremental improvements, and rail jumped from a C- to a C+. WaPo’s Graphics Reporter Tim Meko recently summarized the issue with a series of maps and links that are required reading to inform the current political discussion and protests over U.S. infrastructure needs. This includes the below map of the location and status of U.S. bridges, many of which are deemed as “structurally deficient” (in red):

The Federal Highway Administration says the nation’s 607,380 bridges are on average 42 years old and require $20.5 billion annually by 2028 to eliminate the backlog of repairs and replacements (only $12.8 billion is being spent currently).

A good time to be an engineer!


Mapping Why I Will Be Late to Work for the Next Year

Posted by – June 5, 2016

After decades of neglect, the Washington DC Metro system will begin a year-long surge in track maintenance on Monday, starting with two weeks of work on the Orange Line that will reduce service on my daily commute from Vienna by 70 percent:

This surge of repairs to the nation’s second-busiest mass transport system is in response to a growing series of service delays, track failures, and electrical fires culminating in last year’s death of a commuter trapped in a tunnel on a smoke-filled train. General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld ordered the maintenance surge along with changes to the system’s budget, culture, and management in an effort to improve safety and reliability.

As well as making commuting a challenge for the 6 million residents of the Washington DC region, it will be something of a social experiment. Commuters may choose to work from home on their companies’ or agencies’ VPNs or email, but mine gets overloaded when Federal offices are closed on snow days and it’s impossible to work on classified systems outside of the office; how will that change the pace and content of work, office culture, and family life? Metro users may get up earlier and arrive home later, or shift to other modes of transport; will this result in massive traffic jams, increased air pollution, more accidents, and a boom for bicycle shops?

The Washington Post’s SafeTrack web site provides further analysis and graphics, and the Washington Metro Transit Authority’s website is a good source for up-to the minute reports. I’d also recommend the outstanding free app DC Metro and Bus by DixonMobility (iOS and Android) to tell you when you’ll get to squeeze onto that next train…


NWS Discovers Caps Lock

Posted by – April 13, 2016

The National Weather Service has announced that, starting May 11, it would stop yelling at you, and no longer issue its official forecasts formatted exclusively in uppercase letters. NWS noted that the uppercase format was a relic of an era when teleprinters only used uppercase letters, but recent upgrades in the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System are allowing for the change to mixed-case letters. Getting the public to respond appropriately to warnings and alerts is an ongoing challenge for the NWS, but mixed case will allow for better organization and emphasis in it’s official forecasts.


For the Umbraphiles

Posted by – March 12, 2016

NASA has released the view from space of the March 9 total solar eclipse, as recorded by the Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite. The below animation shows the complete passage of the lunar shadow from one edge of the Earth to the other, from the Indian Ocean to the open waters and islands of the Pacific Ocean. DSCOVR is the Nation’s first operational satellite in deep space, hovering between the sun and Earth to provide advanced solar measurements and early warnings of potentially dangerous space weather events – a solar storm buoy in deep space.


Record Warmth in 2015

Posted by – January 31, 2016

AGU reports that NASA and NOAA independently assessed that the planet’s average surface temperature jumped to a new high in 2015, except for a cool spot in the North Atlantic. Based on about 6300 stations, ships and buoys, both agencies found the average global temperature had increased compared to 2014 – which had also been a record year. NASA found the average was 0.87°C higher than the average temperature over 1951 – 1980, where NOAA found a 0.90°C increase compared to the average over 1901 – 2000. The below image, courtesy of the Scientific Visualization Studio at Goddard Space Flight Center, shows the 2015 change from the longterm average temperature, with hottest areas on Earth in red and the coldest in blue.
Global average temperature 2015
Compliments to Cody Sullivan, AGU Intern, for the excellent article in EOS this past week!


2015 is Not Over Yet

Posted by – December 27, 2015

On the heels of devastating storms that killed 11 in North Texas December 26, @CraigatFEMA (FEMA Director Craig Fugate) warns that the rough weather will continue into the New Year, caused by a low pressure system moving slowly north/northeastward from the lower Mississippi Valley. Not only a valuable warning of the rain, snow, ice and flooding we will likely see the week of December 28-January 1, this forecast and map are examples of the fine work done by the Climate Prediction Office of the National Weather Service.
Have a Safe New Year,

P.S. For information on the North Texas Tornadoes and to donate, please contact the American Red Cross of North Texas

Have a Data-Driven Christmas

Posted by – December 18, 2015

In a recent interview with Santa, IBM’s Graeme Noseworthy discussed the North Pole’s use of Big Data and analytics to assess who is naughty and nice for over a billion children. The North Pole collects structured and unstructured data ranging from customer profiles and gift-package radio frequency identification (RFID) tags to Offline Sibling Sentiment Data (OSSD) into a single Naughty/Nice Child Data (NNCD) database in real time that allows Santa align children’s behavior and requests with appropriate gifts.

Nope, nothing creepy about that!

The below infographic summarizes the data structure, and is the xAnalytica Christmas Graphic for 2015:
Runner up was Huskie’s analysis of the best days to go Christmas shopping in Dublin. xAnalytica’s Christmas Graphics from previous years:

Happy Holidays!


  • Comments Closed