Most energy sources are visible to the naked eye: We can see the inky blackness of coal, the sheen of oil, the beam of sunlight. Wind, on the other hand, is more covert. We can hear it, sure, and things tend to bend or fall over when it’s around. But the power of wind energy can only really be understood when turbines are spinning in our line of sight.
This animated map, created by the leaders of the Google Big Picture data visualization group, makes wind power seem a little more real by revealing the patterns of wind flowing across the continental U.S. The map downloads forecasts once an hour, and the speed and density of the animated particles show current actual wind speeds.
Want more? Creators Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg have other visualizations available here. This is actually the second wind visualization that we’ve seen recently. Check out the other (more colorful, less hypnotic) one here.