Models create a dynamic portrait of the Earth through numerical experiments that simulate our current knowledge of the dynamical and physical processes governing weather and climate variability. The simulation visualized here captures how much water vapor is carried in the atmosphere and circulated during the period September 1, 2006 to March 17, 2007. Such simulations allow scientists to identify the sources and pathways of atmospheric rivers, which are are relatively narrow regions in the atmosphere that are responsible for most of the horizontal transport of water vapor outside of the tropics.
Notice the increased amounts of water vapor in the tropics. It's also possible to see the springtime afternoon showers in the Amazon and Central African Tropical Rain Forests. Red, orange and yellow indicate the highest amounts of water content in the clouds. Precipitable cyclonic motion around a low pressure center turns counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern hemisphere.
The simulation, which has a 10 kilometer resolution per grid cell, used the Goddard Earth Observing System Model, Version 5 (GEOS-5) and the Goddard Chemistry Aerosol Radiation and Transport (GOCART) Model. It ran on 3,750 processors of the Discover supercomputer at the NASA Center for Climate Simulation.
GEOS-5 development is funded by NASA’s Modeling, Analysis, and Prediction Program.