NASA, in collaboration with GLOBE Programme, has announced a global cloud observation challenge – inviting citizen scientists to observe and track clouds using their smartphones.
GLOBE Programme is an international science and education programme beginning from March 15 through April 15. Citizen scientists of all ages can make up to 10 cloud observations per day using the GLOBE Observer app.
“The GLOBE Program is offering this challenge to show people how important it is to NASA to have citizen scientist observations; observations from the ground up,” said Marile Colon Robles, lead for the GLOBE Clouds team at NASA’s Langley Research Center in the US. “We’re going from winter to spring, so the types of storms will change, which will also change the types of clouds.”
Cloud data collected by citizen scientists are highly valued and used by researchers because it helps to validate data from Earth-observing instruments. During the challenge, citizen scientists of all ages will be allowed to make up to 10 cloud observations per day using the GLOBE Observer app or one of the other data entry options. Participants with the most observations will be congratulated by a NASA scientist in a video posted on the GLOBE Program’s website and on social media.
Scientists at Langley work with a suite of six instruments known as the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES). Even though CERES’ instruments use advanced technology, it is not always easy for researchers to positively identify all types of clouds in their images.
“Looking at what an observer recorded as clouds and looking at their surface observations really helps us better understand the images that were matched from the satellite,” observed Robles. Citizen science observations are especially needed now because scientists are starting to verify data from a new CERES instrument.