Earth System Science Projects

GLOBE projects provide student research experiences to explore and learn about Earth through a network of students, teachers, and scientists. GLOBE projects are grounded in real science embedded in an inquiry-based, collaborative approach. NSF and NASA funded a unique set of GLOBE projects, collectively called the Earth System Science Projects, bringing hands-on, primary and secondary school-based science activities integrating cutting edge Earth system science research into the GLOBE Program.


Carbon Cycle icon, with a sun and leaf.

Carbon Cycle

"Carbon: the building block of life."  You may have heard this phrase, but have you understood what it really means? Carbon is the most abundant element in living things and accounts for approximately 50% of the total mass of plants and animals. Carbon is also present throughout the Earth system.

Through field exercises, computer modeling, and remote sensing, primary and secondary teachers and students will gain knowledge about current carbon cycle research, develop strong analytical skills, and increase their overall environmental awareness.

FLEXE image. From local to extreme environments. Image of plant life underwater.

Extreme Environments (FLEXE)

How extreme is the deep sea? What does it take to flourish along a mid-ocean spreading center 2500 meters below sea level? The deep sea is the largest environment on Earth – characterized by crushing pressure, near freezing temperatures, and no light. Hot hydrothermal vents and cold hydrocarbon seeps found on the seafloor host lush communities of animals.

Students gain an understanding of local and the deep-sea environments, the interconnected Earth system, and the process of science by collecting data from their local environment and comparing it with data from an extreme deep-sea environment.
Seasons and Biomes image showing an elephant and other animals.

Seasons and Biomes

A biome is a large geographic area of distinctive plant and animal groups that are adapted specifically for a particular environment. Biome type is determined by the climate and geography of a region.

This project will contribute scientific measurements to validate satellite data used in research on regional climate change, prevention and management of diseases, and understanding of the water and carbon cycles. By monitoring the seasons in your biome, you will learn how interactions within the Earth system affect your local environment and how it in turn affects regional and global environments.

Watershed Dynamics image, showing what is in a drop of water.

Watershed Dynamics

Where does your water come from and where does it go? What factors affect the flow of water where you live? The GLOBE Watershed Dynamics Project will enable students to investigate their own watershed in order to understand the flow of water through the watershed, how human activities within the watershed both depend on and impact its hydrology, and how land use changes can affect the plant and animal communities in the watershed. GLOBE students will have the opportunity to conduct science investigations on local and regional watersheds using real-time and historical scientific data from the Consortium of Universities for Advancement of Hydrologic Science.