A World of ECCO Visualizations

Thanks to powerful supercomputers, NASA now offers a large suite of visualizations that you can customize in a few easy steps. This page is designed to help you navigate among hundreds of videos and images that have been pre-computed using a 14-month global simulation of the ocean (September 2011 to November 2012).

Visualizations of the ECCO Project's 1/48° MITgcm Simulation

  • Visit this URL: Visualizations of the ECCO Project's 1/48° MITgcm Simulation (aka llc4320)
  • Choose a series - 3 options
  • Choose a measurement type (a.k.a. "Scalar") – 21 options
  • Choose a depth (a.k.a. "Level") – 90 options for 3D scalars and 1 option for 2D scalars
  • Click on an image to reveal a table with options for your custom visualized data
PDF Version of step-by-step instructions (817 KB)


The three series – Global, 8 Regions, 128 Regions – offer 2 or 3 options for pixel resolution (in km), each of which corresponds to a specific animation size (in pixels).

Overview Ranges of Pixel Spatial Resolution / Animation Sizes for each Series
Global 43 km / 1000 x 600 22 km / 2000 x 1200 12 km / 3600 x 2160
8 Regions 22 km / 800 x 600 11 km / 1600 x 1200 6 km / 2880 x 2160
128 Regions 5.4 km / 800 x 600 2.7 km / 1600 x 1200

Measurement Type & Depth

Some measurement types produce more colorful maps than others, as shown below. Measurements are parsed between 3D and 2D options. 3D have 90 ocean depth options. 2D have ocean surface data only (e.g., air-sea fluxes, surface winds).

3D Choose one of 90 Levels: 0.5 m to 6301 m depth
Gray colorbar
  • Temperature (Theta)
  • Salt
  • East-West Velocity (U)
  • North-South Velocity (V)
  • Vertical Velocity (W)
Red and blue colorbar
  • Vertical Vorticity (UVvort)
Blue colorbar
  • Horizontal Speed (UVspeed)
2D One Level only: 0.5 meters depth
Gray colorbar
  • Net Upward Shortwave Radiation (oceQsw)
  • Net Upward Surface Heat Flux (oceQnet)
  • Effective Snow Thickness (SIhsnow)
  • Sea-Ice Salinity (SIhsalt)
  • Effective Ice Thickness (SIheff)
  • Fractional Ice-covered Area (SIarea)
  • Ocean Bottom Pressure (PhiBot)
Blue and red colorbar
  • Net Upward Salt Flux (oceSflux)
  • Net Upward Freshwater Flux (oceFWflx)
  • Sea Surface Height (Eta)
Mixing layer depth colorbar
  • Mixing Layer Depth (KPPhbl)
Wind speed colorbar
  • Surface Wind Stress Magnitude (oceTAUspeed)
Wind vorticity colorbar
  • Surface Wind Stress Curl (oceTAUvort)

Visualized Data

After completing the previous steps, a map will appear comprised of 1 (global), 8, or 128 images. Clicking on any image will reveal a table with several options.

Click a button to designate the Timestep (row) and Animation Pixel Resolution and File Size (column). Purple arrows below show the general trends in file sizes… specific file size information will be listed in each cell of the table.

Example Visualizations

Global mean time-series of sea level and ocean bottom pressure (in equivalent sea level) of V4r4 in comparison to observations
3D image of global salt (salinity) at 0.5 m depth (Level 0). Data are from 13-Sep-11 and Practical Salinity Units (PSU) are used (gray color scale).
3D video of global salt at 252 m depth (Level 30). Orange areas are shallower than 252 m. Salinity data begin on 13-Sep-11 and run through 15-Nov-12. Time step between scenes is 1 hour (MP4, 4.6 MB).
3D video of north Pacific (one of 8 regions) horizontal speed at 0.5 m depth. Data begin on 13-Sep-11 and run through 15-Nov-12 and units are meters per second (blue color scale). Time step between scenes is 24 hours (MP4, 6 MB).
3D video of area that includes the Galapagos Islands (one of 128 regions) vertical vorticity at 139 m depth (Level 20). Data begin on 13-Sep-11 and run through 15-Nov-12 and units are 1/f scaled (red-blue color scale). Time step between scenes is 12 hours (MP4, 8.7 MB).
2D video of global surface wind stress magnitude (Level 0). Data begin on 13-Sep-11 and run through 15-Nov-12 and units are N/m2 (rainbow color scale). Time step between scenes is 24 hours (MP4, 9.8 MB).
Visualizations of ECCO's 1/48° MITgcm Simulation