Beautiful Visualization Shows 24 Hours of Flights Over the North Atlantic

Erin McCarthy

North Atlantic Skies from NATS on Vimeo.

According to NATS, the UK's leading provider of air traffic control services, between 2000 and 3000 aircraft fly between Canada, the U.S., and Europe every day—and they've created this mesmerizing data visualization to show what all that air traffic flying over the North Atlantic looks like.

The video shows Transatlantic traffic from an August day last year, when 2524 flights crossed the North Atlantic through the Shanwick Oceanic Control Area, or OCA. The North Atlantic is divided into six OCAs, and the Shanwick is by far the busiest, according to NATS: "It is often referred to as 'the gateway to Europe' and around 80 percent of all North Atlantic Air Traffic passes through it." On that day in August, 1273 of the flights passed through the Shanwick OCA; as many as 1500 flights a day might pass through in the summer.

Hat tip to our favorite astronaut, Chris Hadfield, for tweeting about this!