breathing earth

NASA’s “Blue Marble” series of images have been some of the most iconic images of the Earth that have ever been produced. And thanks to the open nature of photography produced by the space agency, people can take these images and do some incredible things with them — like visualization expert John Nelson and his “a Breathing Earth”.

He took photos from NASA’s Visible Earth project, and its “Blue Marble Next Generation” image sets. With one for each month, he wrapped the images into a North Pole-centered projection, and animated the change from month to month.

The resulting animated image is an incredible, organic look at how the ice and snow over the Northern Hemisphere advance and retreat from month to month, creating a heartbeat for the planet. The other projections from his page let you see how it hits the rest of the planet too, including the minimal snow changes in the Southern Hemisphere, and the shifting green belts around the equator.

Nelson talked to Fast Co Design about his own thoughts on the project, especially having grown up in Michigan, a state that annually battles extreme cold and intense snow. But for every one of us, this animation gives an incredible, organic look at the beating climatic heart of the planet.