Sometimes, particle animations work, such as with Perpetual Ocean [nasa.gov], developed by NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio. This visualization shows ocean surface currents around the world during the period from June 2005 through Decmeber 2007.
Interestingly, the visualization does not include any narration or annotations. Instead, the goal was to use ocean flow data to create a simple, visceral experience. The data was based on a high resolution model of the global ocean and sea-ice, that is able to capture ocean eddies and other narrow-current systems which transport heat and carbon in the oceans.
You can either hit your bandwidth allowance by downloading the 2GB versions at the NASA website, or watch the somewhat smaller, yet still HD version, below.