This incredible visualization of the Earth and its oceans was created by the Scientific Visualization Studio at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. It’s called Perpetual Ocean and allows the visualization of the surface of the oceans over a 30-month period, between June 2005 and December 2007.
The animation was created using NASA and JPL’s high-resolution computational model Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean, Phase II (ECCO2) of the Earth’s oceans, which is normally used to run simulations to predict the changes in the currents of the oceans. In order to create these swirling patterns, the results were somewhat exaggerated. This is the reason why it looks like the wind in Van Gogh’s famous The Starry Night.
ECCO2 simulates ocean flows at all depths, but only the surface flows were used in this visualization. ECCO2 allows for increasingly accurate resolutions that begin around ocean eddies and narrow-current systems that transport heat and carbon in the oceans. The dark patterns represent undersea bathymetry.
NASA states that topographical and land exaggeration was at 20 times normal, while bathymetric exaggeration was at 40 times normal. The video can be watched directly below.