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Wind Map (hint.fm)
884 points by taylorbuley 750 days ago | comments


uvdiv 750 days ago | link

Not actually a good representation for wind energy potential, because wind power is cubic in wind speed (v^2 for kinetic energy per unit volume, times v^1 for volume/(cross sectional area * unit time)). So energy potential is concentrated in the "long tail", infrequent high winds. (E.g. 30 mph is 8x more powerful than 15 mph, 27x more than 10 mph). The distribution looks much more "uneven" -- both in space (clustered) and time (fluctuating) -- than a linear-in-windspeed map shows.

Off topic: if anyone's looking for a slightly gigantic weather history dataset ("oodles of terabytes"), look at [1]. It has accumulated "a few thousand" weather stations, at 5 minute intervals, going back "a few" years (I forget the numbers).

[1] http://madis.noaa.gov/

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scblock 750 days ago | link

It's easy enough to convert something like that to energy potential, but when determining whether a site has good potential for wind energy development we really do tend to think of the wind in terms of speed (in m/s) and not energy density.

Depending on the capture technology (even specific wind turbine models using a certain technology) and project arrangement the variation even at a single location is very high.

And this is a beautiful visualization of the flow.

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doubtfully 750 days ago | link

If you are in the business of determining whether a site has good potential for wind energy development, answer me this if you can: what is the maximum realistic potential percentage of the U.S. energy consumption that windpower could satisfy in 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50 years given realistic conditions (funding, available land, etc.)?

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scblock 750 days ago | link

That question is literally a massive research project and I couldn't begin to answer it here. The best place to start is probably the DOE 20 percent by 2030 report released in 2008.

http://www.20percentwind.org/20p.aspx?page=Report

The US has huge amounts of available wind energy, but constrained supply chain, development, and transmission resources. 20% by 2030 is technically possible but will require huge amounts of work.

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Someone 750 days ago | link

Note for those unfamiliar with the field: there is a considerable difference between "X% of electricity use" and "X% of power use" (for the USA, about a 1:6 factor, if I read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_in_the_United_States correctly). That 20percentwind.org site, to me, has the former as a goal.

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tarre 749 days ago | link

You have it right. 20 % of electricity use means, that on average power is the same 20 %. When it is blowing in large areas, more than 50 % of electric power is produced by wind turbines and when it's not blowing the percentage may be very small. In Portugal the maximum power share wind turbines have had is 75 %, though only 17 % on average is produced by wind.[1]

This creates two problems:

1) You need to have a lot of transmission capacity, which is used very inefficiently. With conventional powerplants you can forecast pretty easily, where and how much electricity is produced and consumed and you can size power grid accordingly (with backup capacities, of course). With wind power the production places and amounts are all the time changeing and you should have plenty of capacity, of which on average only small share is used.

2) To cover the consumption during non-windy times, you need to maintain backup power plants, which should be able to follow load rapidly. Water power is ideal for this, but as penetration level raises you need also other power plants, gas turbines for example (but who wants to maintain a turbine, which is used rarely...). Also batteries may be applied in the future, but in large scale that is nowadays pretty much science fiction.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power#Penetration

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peter_l_downs 750 days ago | link

Hey, thanks for that weather dataset link. I had tried to find something similar a couple of months ago and completely failed — somehow, I missed this site entirely.

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cshimmin 750 days ago | link

Interesting point. Of course a wind-powered device cannot extract all of the power of the wind; the power goes more like v^2 times (delta)v, where the delta is basically how effectively the device can slow the wind. Of course, one might expect this term might be proportional to the original windspeed, so it still goes roughly as v^3. For a related analysis, see Betz' Law: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betz_law

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jordanb 750 days ago | link

This is beautiful and a brilliant, intuitive "100,000 feet up" picture of wind movements.

But it's not horribly useful if you are interested in wind conditions at a particular place. Trying to figure out if a spot is experiencing 15mph wind vs 10mph is hard, for instance.

Compare it to these maps: http://passageweather.com/ which are not pretty nor are they intuitive but they are useful for someone trying to use the map to get detailed, localized wind condition information.

It seems like there should be some kind of middle ground between this wind map and maps like passageweater.com, maps that are intuitive and pretty but also provide detailed, useful information.

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hoprocker 750 days ago | link

Maybe using colors instead of shades of gray would be clearer?

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WALoeIII 750 days ago | link

http://windonthewater.com/ (use http://windonthewater.com/i.htm on your phone) http://windalert.com/ (iOS app for mobile)

NOAA Point Forecasts: ex: http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?lat=20.91&lon=-...

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RockyMcNuts 750 days ago | link

Also wouldn't mind seeing high pressure/low pressure systems, fronts, so you can see how they generate/impact wind.

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iamwil 750 days ago | link

actually, if you click on the map, you can zoom in, and you can see whether a particular spot is experiencing fierce winds or not. I haven't figured out how to zoom out yet though.

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link2009 750 days ago | link

NINJA EDIT: There is an 'unzoom' button on the left!

I can't figure out how to zoom out either because I don't think they've implemented that functionality. You can also zoom in infinitely...which is strange.

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jmilloy 750 days ago | link

You just hover over the spot of interest and then it tells you to one decimal place...

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dfc 750 days ago | link

Is a 5 mile an hour difference important?

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lacerus 750 days ago | link

Yes, absolutely, for many sports that rely on wind, such as wind- or kite-surfing.

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recursive 750 days ago | link

To me? Yes.

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eagsalazar 750 days ago | link

they just need to add mouseover details. Rough wind speeds are already indicated by line density, using color would just waste that variable so you couldn't use it for things like pressure. That would be a super cool visualization and again details could be provided by mouseover data.

It would also be cool if you could zoom in. There is definitely a lot of local variation in wind speed/direction that you have to filter out when looking at the entire US but would still be very interesting to see.

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nextstep 750 days ago | link

This reminds me of the proof that there is always a point on the earth where there is no wind. This is a property of spherical surfaces: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hairy_ball_theorem

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cbr 750 days ago | link

There is only a windless spot on earth if you take wind to mean air moving horizontal to the earth's surface. Otherwise imagine that we have wind that points north along the ground, with wind pointing up at the north pole and down at the south pole (and higher up wind comes back south).

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nextstep 750 days ago | link

That's a good point. I think the surface you are describing (that the wind would sweep out) would be a torus. The 2-torus is "combable."

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crazygringo 750 days ago | link

And some people think mathematicians have no sense of humor!

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lutorm 750 days ago | link

Beautiful visualization! It would be interesting to have an underlay showing the topography so one can correlate features in the wind pattern with mountain ranges, etc.

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nostromo 750 days ago | link

Great idea. You can clearly see how the wind patterns are distorted around the Sierra Nevadas and Rockies. While in the East wind patterns are much more smooth.

You could also add color to indicate the temperature of the air.

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hoprocker 750 days ago | link

+1. Some of the linear disruptions in wind flow suggest the topography, it'd definitely be interesting to correlate changes in elevation w/ the wind patterns.

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crisnoble 750 days ago | link

If you could get at the GIS data sets you would be golden. Anyone know of an easy way to integrate GIS data into web applications?

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lbotos 750 days ago | link

Would something like tilemill help? http://www.tilemill.com

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crisnoble 750 days ago | link

That is the coolest thing I have seen in a very long time. Thank you!

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crazygringo 750 days ago | link

That's amazing. It's so inspiring to see someone can have such a simple idea, execute, and create something not only incredibly intuitive and useful, but beautiful too.

It makes you wonder what other things are out there waiting to be done, and what you can do.

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iamwil 750 days ago | link

I'm not so sure it's exactly simple to implement. A quick glance at the code, it seems like they had to implement vector field support from scratch.

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malandrew 750 days ago | link

I haven't looked at the code and how they implemented vector field support, but couldn't a library like Sylvester have been used?

http://sylvester.jcoglan.com/

Paper.js looks like it could work as well:

http://paperjs.org/about/

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gibybo 750 days ago | link

I am used to seeing wind markings on aviation maps (e.g. http://www.aviationweather.gov/adds/winds/) but it's pretty cool how much clearer this map is. It makes me wish I could see a much larger portion of the world so I could get a better understanding of the currents that are entering/exiting the US.

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th0ma5 750 days ago | link

been wanting to do this myself for like forever. it looks like they are using high level summary data from the NWS ... they also have this amazing thing called MADIS which focuses on micro climate research (and more) ... so in theory you could get a high resolution version of this for san francisco or nyc, and that'd be really great and possibly rather useful too. I think the Weather Underground is a subscriber of MADIS, and their "rapid update" feature has some of this, and also I should mention some of this is collected by ham radio people in their spare time too.

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Edootjuh 750 days ago | link

Very cool. It's interesting to see how elevation affects the wind here (http://www.theodora.com/maps/new9/usa_elevation_map.gif), but I'd wish there was a worldwide version. (I'm aware that you need a data source)

Should you be interested, here's data from the Netherlands: http://www.knmi.nl/samenw/hydra/cgi-bin/register.cgi

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BHSPitMonkey 750 days ago | link

Never before has a piece of software made me wish for a hurricane to ravage my country simply out of curiosity.

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nix 750 days ago | link

They are using a bad dataset. Some of the discontinuities you see are administrative boundaries between National Weather Service forecast offices.

http://nixweb.com/dust/ is my version, for the SF Bay Area only. It was 15 years ago so pardon my Java applet.

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mbostock 750 days ago | link

This appears to be an animated form of line integral convolution. Cabral and Leedom paper's from SIGGRAPH '93, Imaging Vector Fields Using Line Integral Convolution (PDF):

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.115...

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datatelling 750 days ago | link

This is great, Mike - thanks for sharing the doc.

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run4yourlives 749 days ago | link

This is beautiful, but I find it lacking because of the focus on the US mainland exclusively. It would be nice to see North America as a whole along with a good part of the Pacific and Atlantic, because these areas have a massive effect on wind patterns.

For example, the wind over the Chicago is travelling "backwards" for no apparent reason. This is most likely due to this being the "backward half" of a cyclonic system centred over Canada.

The other thing that struck me is the effect the Southwest desert has on wind patterns over all... just, wow.

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krosaen 750 days ago | link

very pretty. related: http://windhistory.com

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jjcm 750 days ago | link

Really a stunning presentation of this data. A huge "whoa." moment when it loaded.

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tpurves 750 days ago | link

Where is the wind over the water? Who cares about what the is on land? As a sailor, I find this map frustrating and upsetting for showing me beautiful wind everywhere I can't sail a boat.

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brownbat 750 days ago | link

My favorite wind potential graph, NPR's "Visualizing the U.S. Electric Grid"

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1109973...

Makes offshore look pretty good.

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joejohnson 750 days ago | link

This visualization is incredible but it made my browser freeze for almost a minute :(

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Uchikoma 750 days ago | link

Brilliant.

On a side node: Anyone else reminded of Deluxe Paint palette cycling animations by this?

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ssdsa 750 days ago | link

Yes, of course! The master of this technique is here: http://www.effectgames.com/demos/canvascycle/

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Uchikoma 750 days ago | link

Thanks!

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prbuckley 750 days ago | link

This would be even cooler if you could display wind speeds at different elevations above the ground. I am guessing that at a certain elevation you have higher winds that kites might be able to capture energy from.

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jeremyarussell 750 days ago | link

I got lost for quite awhile looking at all the wind and how it moves around the area I'm pretty sure is my mountainous home. Kudos to the maker(s).

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mahyarm 750 days ago | link

They should add Canada, Mexico and the ocean if possible to see where these in and out flows are coming from.

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th0ma5 750 days ago | link

or tie it in with the ocean viz from nasa from the other day! unfortunately most of the data i could find for canada was only in the south, and the mexico data was similarly in only the more densely populated areas.

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iamwil 750 days ago | link

It's also neat because you can tell where the mountains are. They're the sections where the wind was pretty slow, and then it speeds up and then slows down again. You can see it over the Rocky Mountains.

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th0ma5 750 days ago | link

some previous visual inspiration possibly for project: (based on lidar data) http://www.datatelling.com/2011/07/29/wind-flow/

http://www.shiffman.net/itp/classes/nature/week06_s09/flowfi...

as well as the big nasa ocean viz from the past few days

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spot 750 days ago | link

predates both of those by quite a bit: http://nixweb.com/dust/

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dfj225 750 days ago | link

This would be even better if it could display change over time. To support, for example, animate the change in wind direction for the past week.

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brownbat 750 days ago | link

So... I want this for all of the world, extrapolated over the oceans.

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xbryanx 750 days ago | link

Odd that they didn't label any of the cities in the places that seem to have the greatest generation potential.

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blueski 750 days ago | link

Beautifully done. Just discovered you can zoom in by double clicking.

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pragmatic 750 days ago | link

A nice addition might be the current locations of wind farms (if that data is accessible someplace).

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toomuchtodo 750 days ago | link

Have already been working on an app for this (just for lulz); haven't had time to finish it yet. I pull from public DOE data regarding generation locations.

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ww520 750 days ago | link

Wow that's cool. Where do you get the wind data?

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dgudkov 750 days ago | link

Looks beautiful but barely usable. Winds have different speed and direction at different altitudes.

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kfury 750 days ago | link

This. The site should clearly state whether they're showing 1000ft prevailing winds, jetstream-level currents (around 30,000 feet) or more surface-level effects. All the people talking about power generation from this data should be aware that the only wind that matters there is below 1,000 ft (in many cases, far below 1,000 ft.)

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crazygringo 750 days ago | link

"Surface wind data from the National Digital Forecast Database."

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adlep 747 days ago | link

This will be a great tool for paragliders. I will post this on paraglidingforums Thanks for the link.

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crisnoble 750 days ago | link

I wish they would make this open source. It is beautiful.

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sidwyn 750 days ago | link

Looks a lot like a chunk of hair. Very neat implementation!

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kevinslin8 750 days ago | link

its been said by others but this is an incredible visualization of a massive amount of data in a beautiful and intuitive medium. it'll be interesting to have this for other large datasets eg. real time web usage...

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paraschopra 750 days ago | link

I want color!

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afterburner 750 days ago | link

Wind power, baby.

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samstave 750 days ago | link

I can zoom really far in by double-clicking, but I cant zoom back out.

I have to refresh to zoom out.

This is BEAUTIFUL.

It would be cool to see the different speed ranges reflected by [color of my choice] as well!

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unreal37 750 days ago | link

There's an UNZOOM button on the left.

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samstave 750 days ago | link

What do you want? Me to actually READ the websites!?

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white_raven 750 days ago | link

I want this as a screen saver!

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DivisibleByZero 750 days ago | link

I was thinking a desktop background version.

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voodoochilo 750 days ago | link

great stuff, but my cputemp is in the clouds

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MyNewAccount 750 days ago | link

beautiful, but not sure how useful it is?

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Slie 750 days ago | link

I love this i think it is really cool. Where is Alaska and the rest of the united states?

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