Map animation reveals the Earth's environmental 'heartbeat'

The idea that the Earth is a not simply a hunk of fertile rock that can withstand anything humans throw at it, but actually a living, breathing organism is an notion that has been explored for quite some time. And while debates over global warming and various environmental warning signs hint at the planet's current delicate state, it's still difficult for many to relate to the Earth as a living thing.

A new series of animated gifs called "A Breathing Earth," created by data visualization designer John Nelson, offers a graphic display that instantly puts the planet in a different light in terms of anthropomorphizing Earth. Constructed using a collection of images from NASA's Visible Earth archive, the animation shows the planet's environmental "heartbeat" as the climate cover waxes and wanes in a way that makes it difficult to deny that the planet does, in a way, "breathe."

Nelson writes, "When I stitch together what can be an impersonal snapshot of an entire planet, all of the sudden I see a thing with a heartbeat. I can track one location throughout a year to compare the annual push and pull of snow and plant life there, while in my periphery I see the oscillating wave of life advancing and retreating, advancing and retreating."

You can check out the animated gifs here.

Via IO9

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