An Insanely Beautiful Visualization of the Polar Vortex

How could something so beautiful cause something this ugly?

The GIF above was generated by the data visualizer "Earth." Click here to see the full interactive version. On the site, you can zoom in and out of different areas on Earth and visualize winds at different altitudes. And it has a hypnotic appeal. The lines represent the motion of stratospheric wind as it churns air down south. The closer together the lines, the faster the wind. It's not real-time conditions; rather, it's a forecast based on super-computer weather models.

It's a reminder that even something so miserable as a 15-degree walk to work in the morning can be made beautiful by a data scientist.

(NASA Goddard / Flickr)But even viewed from less dynamic perspectives, the polar winds retain their beauty (from space at least). NASA took this photo Tuesday of what it affectionately calls an "arctic blanket" that is hovering over the United States.

h/t Discover Magazine