Computer-generated clouds reveal a key aspect of Europe’s meteorology.
Europe owes much of its weather to prevailing winds known as the westerlies. These consistent breezes, created in part by the planet’s rotation, blow from the west, bringing rain and moisture from the Atlantic Ocean to the continent. They also influence the migration of clouds. Throughout the year, the winds carry clouds east above Europe's vegetated, and sometimes snow-covered, landscape. Using a NASA supercomputer climate model called GEOS-5, scientists are able to simulate cloud movement over Europe and other parts of the world. Such models can help improve scientists' understanding of Earth's climate. In GEOS-5 simulations of Europe’s atmosphere, computer-generated clouds take on the appearance and motion of clouds imaged by Earth-observing satellites and astronauts aboard the International Space Station. Watch the video to see 15 days of simulated cloud changes across Europe.