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This is how rain and snow travel across the globe

This is how rain and snow travel across the globe

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Today NASA released a visualization of storm swirls that took place in 2014, and the results are pretty spectacular. The data were gathered thanks to NASA's "Global Precipitation Measurement Core Observatory" (GMP), a satellite network that provides near real-time precipitation data covering the entire planet. But the patterns shown in the video aren't just meant to look pretty — they're going to help save lives.

it tells you "which coastlines to evacuate."

The "GMP sees globally, so you can start to track the hurricanes and cyclones and know which coastlines to evacuate," Gail Skofronick-Jackson, GPM project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, said during a NASA briefing today. Thanks to its network of satellites, GMP gathers global precipitation information every 30 minutes. For this reason, NASA says it can be used to develop rainfall accumulation maps. "For floods, if you know it's been raining with a very high rain rate... the emergency management can start to say 'this looks dangerous, let's evacuate people,'" she said.

The GMP system is only a year old, but it may soon help people in this manner. In the meantime, watching the weather go by is pretty fun. You can track precipitation in the US as it turns to snow in Canada, or watch rain move from West Africa to South America. It shows just how connected we all are. "The view from space has given us an ability to see the entire globe in multiple dimensions," Skofronick-Jackson said. "It has completely transformed our understanding of the Earth."