Wind wonderfully visualized: First Tokyo, now the world

Live version at

A few weeks ago I was lucky to meet with the incredibly clever Cameron Beccario over beers with some friends here in Tokyo [1]. He had just recently created his Tokyo Wind Map, a visualization of publicly available wind data using the very slick D3 Javascript library. Attentive readers of our site might recall that we also used D3 for our own Japan Internet Map. It’s a really great tool.

Anyway, since that evening Cameron has – quite literally – moved on to bigger things, and has now published his latest project, simply called “Earth”. The Tokyo wind map was pretty jaw dropping when I first saw it, but this global view takes it to a new level, showing a more insightful view of current [2] weather conditions across the globe. Cameron, who took on these projects merely as a way to learn Javascript, explains:

I had seen the US Wind Map and thought it was so amazing that I could follow its example and build a version for Tokyo, learning Javascript in the process. And once the Tokyo map was complete, the next logical step was the entire planet. I hadn’t seen it done before and thought it would be nice to see how the air actually flows around the planet. Clouds tell part of the story, but compare with the amazing images of Jupiter and Saturn. Well, Earth is just like that, if only we can see the wind and oceans.

Creations like Cameron’s are a wonderful example of what can happen when data is made available on the web for public consumption. He adds:

There’s all this data out there hiding in tables, binary files, behind obscure but wide open doors. Like the Tokyo pollutant measurements. But there was no way to visualize it.

Thankfully, he found a way. His interactive world lets explore different areas, zooming in for a closer view if you need, to see how wind behaves all around the globe. If you’d like to explore his code, it’s all openly available over on Github. You can throw some support behind it by liking the project’s Facebook page.

I’m not familiar of many people working with D3 here in Japan, but for anyone who wants to learn more, there is a Japanese intro over on Mike Bostock’s Github page (he developed the project), and there are also some useful tutorials over on if you’d like to dive deeper.

Cameron’s first effort, a Tokyo Wind Map

  1. David, the author of the recent viral blog post ‘Why Japanese web design is so… different’ was also there, as was Søren Jones, one of the smartest data/scripting geeks I know. I really need to get out more… ↩

  2. Not quite real time, but updated every three hours as the source data updates.  ↩