Posted by: Michael Ritter PhD | October 28, 2006

Widgets for Earth Science

Widgets are small applications popping up on screens for streaming music, displaying the latest weather radar, alerting us to incoming email or recent earthquakes. A number of widgets are available for earth scientists.

What Are Widgets?

Widgets are small xml and javascript applications that reside on your Window’s desktop or as a feature of Mac OSX Dashboard. Widgets became popular as a Apple-only application created by Konfabulator. Yahoo purchased Konfabulator and markets the “Yahoo Widget Engine” that distributes cross-platform widgets. Apple provides links to a number of “Dashboard Widgets” at its web site.

Dashboard widgets displayed on a MacBook

Widgets are relatively easy to create and a variety are available as free downloads. Widgets are available for system utilities, news feeds, multimedia, communication, and education. For earth scientists, widgets can access resources like USGS streamflow data, doppler radar at a variety of spatial scales, NOAA hurricane loops, and NASA visualizations.

A Sample of Earth Science Widgets

EarthquakesDescription from site: “The Earthquakes Widget shows a world map with the latest earthquake information from USGS. Earthquakes are shown as circles, with a larger circle indicating a larger earthquake. Quakes within the last day are shown in yellow, those within the last week are shown in green. Right-click (or Ctrl-click on OS X) allows you to zoom in or out and open the USGS earthquake information page for any earthquake. Earthquake information is automatically refreshed about every three hours.”

River Levels Widget

Provides an easy way to monitor the amount of water flowing in your favorite streams and rivers right from your Dashboard. Once any United States Geological Survey (USGS) stream-gauge station is selected, it is automatically refreshed to always provide you with the latest graph of the water-level.

MacPips WorldTime Widget

Description from site: “Fully interactive WorldTime widget, showing the day and night areas of the Earth in all the world’s time zones.”

NOAA Hurricane 2006

Description from site: “Downloads both static and loop images from the National Hurricane Center. This Widget will also find and display the graphics for any currently active tropical storm.”

NASA Solar Viewer

Description from the site: “NASA’s Solar Viewer allows you to see today’s images of the Sun on your desktop. These near realtime images come from NASA/ESA’s SOHO
mission, NASA TRACE mission, and the Big Bear Observatory.

SATellite Images

Description from the site: “Allows the user to view many different satellite maps of USA, sea surface temperatures, earthquakes, oceans, and a variety of world locations.”

Widget Sites

Apple Dashboard Widgets:

Yahoo Widget Engine:


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