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The Year in Weather Like Never Seen Before

Satellite images often provide crucial information when major storms such as Super Typhoon Haiyan form. But both extreme events and our day-to-day weather are part of a much larger climate system. Now EUMETSAT, the European Union’s satellite agency, has taken that long view and used satellite images to construct an entire year in weather on our planet in high definition.

The new visualization uses data gathered in 2013 from European, Japanese, and American satellites and overlays it on NASA’s Blue Marble images. This is the first time EUMETSAT has put together this type of visualization.


Watching it, it’s easy to see why Super Typhoon Haiyan was one of the biggest weather catastrophes of the year. The storm’s rapid expansion and beeline for the Philippines in November are clearly visible from a bird’s eye view. October’s freak blizzard in the Midwest, powerful windstorms in Europe in November and December, and tropical storms throughout the year are all on display.

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However, watching the video also makes it clear that extreme events are only a portion of what makes up our planet’s climate system. Instead, it’s a dynamic system constantly in flux with many features we often take for granted.

Unimpeded by land, storm systems rumble across the Southern Ocean throughout the year. Clouds rarely pass over the dry expanse of the Sahara while in the Tropics, bands of rain shift north or south of the equator depending on the season. The remnants of cyclones are pulled up and away into the jet stream and recycled through planet’s climate system. 

We each experience weather in a unique way depending on where we live. This new view gives us a chance to put those individual experiences in a bigger context. It isn’t required for viewing, but watching this full screen with the lights low helps drive that point home.