Itw with Cameron Beccario: following Tara in real-time

© earth.nullschool.net

Route, speed, wind, waves and currents. Follow Tara and sailing conditions in real-time thanks to the interactive map developed by Camero Beccario.

Originally from Cedar Rapids, Iowa in the American Midwest, Cameron Beccario is a computer engineer. He has provided interactive mapping to the Tara Expeditions Foundation to follow Tara’s route and sailing conditions. Based in Tokyo for the last 12 years, he manages software engineering for a popular job-seekers’ search engine. He tells us the story of his EARTH project and fascination with these remarkable and aesthetic maps.

 

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How did you come up with the EARTH project?

In the summer of 2013, I wanted to improve my web programming skills by learning JavaScript and data visualization. I stumbled upon hint.fm/wind, an animated map of wind conditions over the US, and was immediately mesmerized. This inspired me to build a similar map for Tokyo, air.nullschool.net. Visitors to the site liked it and often asked, “How can I see the wind where I live? ” So I decided the next step was to build a wind map for the whole planet.

 

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The Earth project © earth.nullschool.net

 

The generated images are magnificent. Is there an artistic project using these maps?

When I started to build the site, I focused on creating a clean and fast design. But along the way, I realized this project  intersected science, engineering, and art. Since it launched, some artists have incorporated wind map imagery into their own work, and the site has been featured at a few galleries and exhibitions. Prints are also available from Point.B Studio.

How did you adapt your project with the Tara Expeditions Foundation?

I was unfamiliar with Tara, so I didn’t know what to expect when I was contacted by Tara’s general director, Romain Troublé to meet in Tokyo. We had a nice chat over coffee where he described the expedition, and I was immediately captivated. We agreed to collaborate by embedding a version of earth.nullschool.net on Tara’s website.

The first step of the collaboration was to construct a program that fetches the current location of Tara every hour and uploads it in GeoJSON format to the servers powering the wind map. Then as visitors open the site, the ship’s location and track is downloaded and rendered on the globe against the planned route. Finally, we show stats about Tara’s environment, like air and water temperature and atmospheric pressure, on a small overlay.

 

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Tara’s position © tara.nullschool.net

 

What’s the purpose of this adaptation and what will the audience discover?

From my perspective, the visualization shows Tara’s relationship with the planet. We have advanced weather models that can predict atmospheric conditions at every point on the earth, yet we struggle to understand how we are changing the planet. The contrast is striking. So there is something compelling, and frightening about a single ship moving across the vast open ocean. Just a single dot on a globe — on a mission to study humanity’s impact on the environment.

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Related articles:

- Track the progress of the Tara Pacific expedition
- More information about the Tara Pacific expedition
Live from the boat