I am looking for a video of global cloud cover. Something like an animated version of this image:

enter image description here (Originally presented at http://naturalearth.springercarto.com/ne3_data/8192/clouds/africa_clouds_8k.jpg)

Any ideas of where to find such video?

Thanks a lot


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    $\begingroup$ That is not a video. What do you want and why? What resolution? Colors? Did you try a Google image search or a Youtube search? $\endgroup$
    – Jan Doggen
    Commented Apr 1, 2018 at 14:36
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    $\begingroup$ go to youtube and search for moving clouds timelapse or google it. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 1, 2018 at 14:56
  • $\begingroup$ @SuperMac1963 I made some changes to the question hoping to make it more clear. Please don't hesitate to edit or rollback if you think I've changed what you meant. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 1, 2018 at 22:44

2 Answers 2


That kind of "moving clouds animation" is a very common one, as it is used routinely to aid in weather forecasting. However, it is not very common to see it in a whole-world geographic projection as the example you show, I'll elaborate later on why that's the case.

Traditionally, a common source of "cloud animations", have been NOAA's geostationary GOES satellites, in operation since 1975, with 17 satellites launched so far and more to come.

If you are looking for visually compelling animations, the latest GOES-16 satellite is capable of producing color images of the Earth's disk every 15 minutes at a resolution of 0.5 km per pixels (at the equator). They look like this: enter image description here

And you can access images and animations pretty much right after acquisition, here is an example of the 24 hours before I posted this (reduced to a 20% of the size due to Stack Exchange upload size limits):

enter image description here

You can see updated animations at any time on the GOES-East Image viewer. More traditional, B&W images (infrared band) can be found in the NOAA GOES page, or many other weather data sources. Also, beside GOES satellites there are many other geostationary weather satellites that cover different parts of the globe.

The reason images like the one you posted are rare (whole-Earth images), is because these kind of images are either taken from:

  • Geostationary orbits, that can't see polar areas and suffer of a strong degradation of the ground resolution per pixel at higher latitudes, or
  • Polar sun-synchronous orbits, like MODIS or Suomi, that allow whole-world composites but using images from multiple passes. Therefore, the full image is composed of images acquired at different times, leading to an ambiguity in the image's time and an impossibility to produce a seamless image, due to the de displacements of the clouds between the different passes.

Worldview is a great source of such multi-temporal composites, and as an example, here is a preview of yesterday's cloud cover by Suomi: enter image description here

Worldview also allows to produce animations of the cloud cover spanning several months at one day interval. You just have to click on the video icon in the lower left and select the dates interval.

The GOES-East Image viewer stores images of the last four days (with some gaps some times), if you bulk-download them you can create longer animations. As an example, I just did a one of the last four days that you can see here (I do recommend to enable HD resolution).

Another interesting one, that also allow for animated display is the EPIC camera on DSCOVR satellite. Despite that the time resolution is a bit too low for looking at the clouds evolution, its unique perspective from the L1 point (42 times further than geostationary orbits) allow a full view of the illuminated side of the Earth. In addition from the animation in the link above, this video is also worth checking.

You can also find animations created using models instead of real data. That approach allows seamless global coverage at an arbitrarily high temporal resolution. A nice example is the one year long animation (at one hour time steps) of cloud cover and precipitation created from the NCAR's CESM model.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks a lot for your fast and very good response(s). I found a solution in Youtube as you did: youtube.com/watch?v=QFZZJF8djJA&t=1s is very good for my purpos... . $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 15:09
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    $\begingroup$ @SuperMac1963 You welcome. It would be nice if you can share the link to the video you found. I will be useful for others and interesting to me. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 15:12

Just like you, I've been searching for such a video of the cloud cover. I didn't want to mess with the tons of images that NASA provides (and with the blank spot drawbacks that Camilo Rada mentioned in his answer) in order to create my own video, and all I could find were simulations where the cloud cover was not the only layer in the video.

In other words, instead of the black and white system for the frames (that can easily be applied to a custom made globe as an "alpha map video" via libraries such as Three.js), all I could find were videos presenting the final result, where the BW alpha mask was already applied to the Earth map and projected on the sphere.

Luckily, today I found that NASA provides just what you and I wanted ... assuming one knows what to look for. The description of the contents is not that intuitive if you only focus on getting a cloud cover animation, but it's available at NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio's Components of the Water Cycle on a Flat Map for Science On a Sphere.

The animation you're looking for is the first in the list, i.e. the "global cloud cover on a flat map with transparency", like you can see from the screenshot below (the animation simulates just one month, but it's enough and also compact for most things): NASA - Components of the Water Cycle on a Flat Map for Science On a Sphere

Or, you could use what I also used before finding the above accurate cloud movement, the Free 4K Animated Cloud Layer for 3D Planet Earth Models posted on Vimeo. The only drawback for this one is that the cloud movement is not replicated according to a realistical Earth model (i.e. clouds spiralling towards NE in the Northern hemisphere, towards SE in the Southern hemisphere, and towards W along the Equator), which is why I preferred the NASA provided alternative.

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    $\begingroup$ yeah the Vimeo video isn't actual clouds at all, just a still frame with fluctuating graphical distortion affects applied. Ok I guess if one wanted to make a b-movie, but otherwise neither realistic nor current/recent data. Glad you found something better :) $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 17, 2022 at 18:50
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    $\begingroup$ I'm glad as well - too bad it was a bit difficult to find, among so many NASA products. But at least it is free and sensibly accurate for a realistic representation, even though it's technically a simulation based on real photos taken in different wavelengths. Certainly better than manipulating hundreds or maybe thousands of the same photos in order to create the animation myself. Now I only have to try to make some sort of transition from the last frame to the first so I can smoothly play it in a loop without having the end to start moment mess up the fluidity of the playback... :D $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 17, 2022 at 22:39
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, I've had a lot of trouble through the years finding what I am looking for earth science products around US government (and other) websites. Don't think we're very well focused on ease of use :-/ If we're going to be that technical, aren't all images both 1s and 0s (on the internet) and also electrical signals our brain gets from our eyes :-p It's real data is the point, the cameras on satellites can just see at greater wavelengths compared to our eyes, rather a completely manufactured image edit like the Vimeo :) $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 17, 2022 at 23:14
  • $\begingroup$ Indeed. Well, they have to be technical since, after all, the data they collect is mainly for scientifical purposes, with the general public access and products a very nice bonus. In the end, it's hard to reconcile the scientifical and common language in almost every field, with medicine the most obvious example. As for the alternatives being manufactured or not, at least they do exist, and it's better than nothing. Realism can only go so far, because a complete version of it would require tons and tons of TB of data, so a simulation based on real photos is a reasonable compromise. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 18, 2022 at 10:21

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