John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
The year's major weather events are all crammed into eight minutes of entrancing footage.
Credit EUMETSAT for squeezing 2013's entire load of weather into a pill we can easily consume. Every major storm and natural calamity is represented in this eight-minute video that the satellite agency released yesterday, from America's droughts to Europe's hurricane-force winds to the Philippine's devastating Typhoon Haiyan.
The folks at EUMETSAT took infrared images for every day of the year and superimposed them over NASA's famous high-res image series, the "Blue Marble." Defined traffic patterns quickly emerge: jet streams pushing a series of storms from west to east, and a solid line of towering systems that's constantly forming and dissolving near the Equator. Seasonal changes on the ground are also visible, such as snow in the Northern Hemisphere melting away during summer months to support luscious, green vegetation.
Mark Higgins, a training officer at EUMETSAT, provides helpful explanations for what you're seeing, such as why the equatorial atmosphere appears to "breathe." (It's due to daily temperature variations creating late-afternoon storms.) Some things to note: Brighter-white clouds are more intense, being higher and colder. The bald, brownish splotch in California reflects the state's worst drought year on record. The major Atlantic systems slashing at Europe in the winter caused flooding, mass evacuations, and the highest tidal surge in 60 years.
And beginning in September, you'll see the typhoon season starting to really pop in the Western Pacific. It would culminate with Haiyan (highlighted in the white box), a massive spinner that killed more than 6,200 people and displaced a further 6 million.