Transcripts of 4273_African_Dust_youtube_hq

Hi. I’m Kel Elkins from NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio. What connects the world’s largest desert to the world’s largest rainforest? Dust. And lots of it. Each year, dust from the Saharan Desert in Africa is swept up into the atmosphere, where it travels across the Atlantic Ocean towards the Amazon Rainforest in South America. On average, a staggering 27 million tons of African dust is deposited into the Amazon Basin each year. So much dust is deposited in the Amazon that scientists credit the phosphates found in the dust with fertilizing the Amazon Rainforest and keeping it as lush as it is. I was tasked with creating this data-driven visualization to tell the story of African Dust. The textures you see on these walls were created using data from NASA’s CALIPSO satellite, which measures aerosols in the atmosphere. These walls are compared with the satellite imagery taken from the same time period. The hazy brown sections of the images are areas where dust is present in the atmosphere. Viewing the CALIPSO data walls sequentially allows us to follow the dust as it travels across the ocean and makes it’s way toward South America. This next section describes dust flux – or how much dust moves through a region over a period of time. The amount of dust in the atmosphere varies with season, and has a lot to do with how much rain Africa gets. This was a particularly tricky dataset to visualize. I elected to use a particle system that emits particles at a rate and velocity relative to the measured flux for a region, and we can see how those particle shapes evolve over the seasons. The piece was well received by the media, with versions of the visualization running on Time, Discovery, the Washington Post, and