The Breathing Earth (cool NASA photos, animated)

Here’s a fun (zen) way to start the morning.  Below are some neat animated gifs of the earth cycling through the 12 months, that make the planet look as if it’s breathing.

It’s pretty amazing stuff, the first image created by John Nelson at UX Blog, the other four created by me, using NASA imagery.

An animated gif is basically a small movie that you create by simply using a small number of photos, in a row, that when show in succession – and repeated indefinitely – looks like a movie (well, it IS a movie in a sense, as that’s all a movie is, is a series of individual photos).

The huge one of the earth below is comprised of 12 photos (Nelson had more, but I took some out to make the file download more quickly). And the 12 simply repeat, so that it looks like a never-ending movie. It’s the same technique I used for some of the silly images we posted on the home page this past weekend, to go along with some of the fun weekend videos. I’d also posted some other cool earth ones earlier, like this one showing Internet usage ebbing and flowing worldwide.

So here first is Nelson’s image of the world looking down at the North Pole, you can see Alaska and its Aleutian Islands reaching out to Kamchatka, Russia – then below that are several images I made, using NASA’s images, of the US, Europe and Alaska.


These are four of my images I made last night, showing the 12 months of the year, first with the entire world:


Next, the US and part of Canada:




Alaska – it’s amazing to see Alaska go totally green, then totally white:


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • Abra

    Very cool, John, nice work.

  • HeartlandLiberal

    Looking at the one of North America, it is interesting how much of the snow extent mirrors the last two great glaciations, the Wisconsinan and the Illinoian, around the Great Lakes area and to the south of the lakes.

    I am reading a book that came out fairly recently, “The Roadside Geology of Indiana”, and it covers in detail how those two episodes cover all of the state, except where they stopped a few miles south of Indianapolis, but wrapped around to the east and west of the hill country that stretches south from Indy to what is now the Ohio River.

    Having lived in South Central Indiana for the past 30 years almost, now, I will say that it is patently and immediately obvious to the most casual observer that we get much less snow now than 30 years ago, winters are much milder. I cannot remember getting below zero in quite a few years. The first few years we were here, I learned what it was to hit 20 plus below Fahrenheit. And the summers have grown steadily hotter and drier for the past ten years.

  • Naja pallida

    Early marketing ploy to get people to move there. :)

  • Naja pallida

    Denmark is right in the path of most of the low-pressure systems the Gulf Stream dumps into northern Europe, so on average is warmer, but also has more unstable weather conditions.

  • Buddy

    Besides Alaska, what is the only other state that goes from totally green to totally white? Michigan. I’m sure that depends on the year, but it illustrates how much of the nation just gets occasional snow storms and doesn’t have the opportunity to sit under a blanket of snow for weeks or months.

  • Mr Ephemeris

    Where’s the sea ice?

  • Phil Blank

    Too fast!
    And why no ice age or ice ball earth?

  • heimaey

    Makes sense. Denmark is pretty low. I wonder how much colder Stockholm gets than Copenhagen in the winter or if it benefits from the gulf stream more but not being on the other side of the mountain range…

  • John Aravosis

    Yep, suspect it might be in part altitude based

  • heimaey

    Kind of cool how Scandinavia just stops getting white at Denmark then retreats back pretty quickly.

  • keirmeister

    Funny, Greenland is anything but green… :)

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