Best of Web

Student selections for the best flow vis on the web.

Fall 2021

Fall 2020

Fall 2019

Fall 2018

Spring 2018



Clouds represent a fabulous form of flow visualization that is available to everybody, almost every day. Here is a good online cloud gallery:
Cloud Appreciation Society: British site (now international, but with Brit humor) for cloud lovers, including a gallery of clouds that look like things.
Here are some resources to help you figure out what the clouds have to say about flow physics.
Inexpensive books on clouds:
Cloudspotter’s Guide, by Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society (2006). This is a very gentle introduction to cloud physics, with interesting anecdotes about each cloud type.
Ceilometer, cloud height data for Boulder CO from the Skywatch Observatory.
The Cloud Book by Richard Hamblyn, in association with the Met Office, 2008. A well-illustrated cloud atlas, organized by cloud height
The Book of Clouds by John Day (“Cloudman”) 2006. Another well-illustrated cloud atlas, but organized by cloud family (cumulus, stratus etc.)
Book on cloud flow physics: AC No. 00-57 Hazardous Mountain Winds & Their Visual Indicators: This is an FAA book for pilots on mountain area clouds and the winds that they reveal. You can download the whole short book for free.
Cloud Types for Observers: This is a 45 page document from the Met Office (2006), the British weather bureau. This booklet describes how to classify clouds. You can download the whole short book for free.


Weather Underground for Boulder
Weather Map archive, to see what weather systems were doing on a particular date
Skywatch Observatory This reports data from the CU Boulder campus weather observatory, including cloud ceiling heights (ceilometer) and daily time lapse of the view towards the Continental Divide.
Current Skew T Plots  This shows the current temperature profile in the atmosphere. If the temperature (white line on the right) is steeper than the adiabatic cooling line (solid yellow) then the atmosphere is stable.The 6 am Denver sounding will have a timestamp of 1200z, and the 6 pm sounding will have a timestamp of 0000z, with the next day’s date. More info on skew-T plots can be found here. If you are really serious, here is a detailed free online course, Skew-T Mastery. Here is a skew-T archive that covers back to 1973. Be sure to choose skew-T plot as output option.
The Wind Map. A lovely visualization of current winds across the North American continent. This was created as an art project by Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg.
PSD Map Room. More weather data and model predictions, from the NOAA-CIRES Climate Diagnostics Center, including  polar views.
Satellite images from U Wisconsin, including global montages.

Other Resources

Fluid Physics for Flow Vis is a group library on Zotero that has science references for the most popular types of flows that students create. Anybody can see the citations but you’ll have to request to join the group to get access to the actual articles.
The Vizzies Visualization Challenge. NSF, Popular Science magazine’s annual visualization contest.
High-speed photography, info, projects and kits.
Propylene glycol is the main ingredient in food coloring. This link lists its density, safety and some other properties.
Rheoscopic (aka kalliroscopic) fluids show the shear field in a flow. Pantene Pro shampoo is an example of a viscous, pearlescent fluid with this property. You can make your own inexpensive fluid using an iridescent art pigment, such as Pearl Ex pigment, available in art supply stores. You can also make a version easily from shaving cream.


ZeroBlaster: Cool smoke ring toys!
Lava lamp recipes from
Cornstarch holes made by vibrating a mixture of cornstarch and water, a dilatant (shear thickening) fluid, also known as oobleck.
Running on cornstarch: a couple of guys running across the surface of a 1 m deep pool of oobleck. The original was from a Spanish popular science TV show, but that’s been taken down.

Other Flow Vis Galleries

There are a number of flow visualization galleries, both on the Web, and in other publications. Here is a sampling:
FYFluidDynamics. I can’t tell you what the acronym stands for, but it’s an excellent blog that gives concise explanations of flow vis images and videos, by Nicole Sharp.
eFluids: A free resource for fluid dynamics and flow engineering, with a large image gallery, and experiments to try.
The Gallery of Fluid Motion, a juried show of flow images held at the annual American Physical Society Division of Fluid Dynamics meeting. Here is a book of images collected from the Gallery over the past 17 years.
Multi-Media Fluid Mechanics CD-ROM: This CD is full of great images and clips, plus intro-level explanations of basic fluids concepts.
An Album of Fluid Motion, Van Dyke’s classic book, currently out of print.

Flow Vis Techniques

Here are some reference texts, and a few websites on flow visualization techniques:

Flow Visualization Merzkirch’s classic text.

Professional journals and meetings focused on flow visualization:

Journal of Flow Control, Measurement and Visualization. An open access journal with very reasonable page charges. Prof. Hertzberg is the US regional editor.

Artists using fluid physics

Here are a few selected artists. A larger curated collection is available at! Flow Visualization.
Soap film images. By Karl E. Deckart, excellent images and good descriptions of the photographic technique.
Liquid Sculpture: Images of droplets and splashes by Martin Waugh, in the tradition of Worthington and Edgerton.
The Hidden Design Matthew Campbell is a Flow Vis alumnus whose abstract pohotography continues to involve fluid flows
Susie Sie is a video artist, working with ferrofluid, ink and lycopodium powder.
Fabian Oefner works with paint, ferrofluid and powders, focused on still images.
Smoke: Images of smoke plumes in air by Thomas Herbrich.
Digital fluids The visualization of numerical fluid flow simulations (data visualization) is a whole different direction, but here are some beautiful representations of fluid physics by Mark Stock.
Exit mobile version