GLOBE Scientists' Blog Tue, 31 Dec 2013 18:02:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Keeping cool in the summer, Part II Tue, 31 Dec 2013 18:02:12 +0000 GLOBE Program Continue reading ]]> This week we continue last week’s blog on keeping cool in the summer (read Part I at, provided by long-time friend of GLOBE, Dr. Peggy LeMone, Chief Scientist for the GLOBE Program from 2003-2009. Dr. LeMone is currently working in the field of weather and cloud formation at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

Peggy Lemone

Dr. Peggy LeMone,
Credit: UCAR

We installed new insulation last year in our roof and outer walls, and installed double-pane windows.  Our impression is that insulating has  kept the summer inside temperatures cooler, especially on the hottest days.   For example, prior to insulating, we recall isolated cases of inside temperatures to 29.4 Degrees Celsius. However,  we do not have enough data to show a clear effect.  I can think of two reasons for this.

First, the weather varies from summer to summer.   Looking at Figure 4 from Part I (see below for your convenience), one sees comparable indoor-outdoor differences for 2010 (before re-insulating) and 2013 (after-re-insulating).

PeggyBlog-Figure4 Figure 4 (from Part I).  Difference between living-room max temperature and that at Foothills when outside temperature exceeds 32o Celsius.

My hypothesis is that the “good” inside-outside temperature differences for 2010 can be traced to some very cool periods in the middle of the summer, as can be seen from Figure 1.  We took advantage of such cool periods to ventilate the house, which cools it (the walls, floors, etc.) enough to keep it cooler during the next period of warm temperatures.

PeggyBlog-KeepingCool-Part II Figure 1Figure 1.  Daily average temperatures at Foothills Laboratory, for 2010 and 2013.  Data are mixing between Days 170 and 185.

The second reason is that the insulation can only slow the warming of the house itself; it can’t stop it entirely.  (Were I to have data like that in Figure 3 from Part I for 2010, I would guess the daily swings of the inside temperature would be larger than for 2013.)

Perhaps easier to understand is an example from nature.  The soil temperature varies much less than the surface temperature. And, the farther down one gets, the less the temperature varies during the day – and during the year (see for graph that shows this).   Surface vegetation, and soils closer to the surface insulate soils and rock farther down.

If you have ever taken a tour through a cave, the guide often mentions that the temperature in the cave is close to the average annual temperature for that location.  This is because the cave is far enough down that the insulating upper layers prevent much temperature change during the year.

People actually take advantage of this steady year-round temperature to moderate the temperature in their house.  Pipes are installed deep into the ground beneath a building.  During the summer months, fluid in the pipes is cooled by the surrounding earth; and the cool fluid is pumped up into the house to cool the air.  In the wintertime, the ground below the house is warmer than the air outside, so the same system can be used to help heat the house.

Does your school collect soil and air temperature data? Have you noticed a difference in these two datasets on very warm days? Let us know by adding a comment!

With Earth warming due to increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, do you think caves are warming as well?  Why?   In what parts of the world would caves warm the most?  Why?


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Keeping cool in the summer, Part I Tue, 17 Dec 2013 19:01:37 +0000 GLOBE Program Continue reading ]]> This week we again welcome long-time friend of GLOBE, Dr. Peggy LeMone, Chief Scientist for the GLOBE Program from 2003-2009, as our guest blogger. Dr. LeMone is currently working in the field of weather and cloud formation at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

Peggy Lemone

Dr. Peggy LeMone,
Credit: UCAR

Today, many homes and public areas have air conditioners to keep families cool during the hot months of the year.  This was not true 50 years ago, when a visit to the movie theater (which was air-conditioned) or a swim in a nearby lake, ocean, or swimming pool would ease the heat.  Hospitals in the town where I grew up would cool their operating rooms by bringing in big pieces of ice.

Though many homes in Colorado have air-conditioning, the climate is sufficiently mild that a large percentage of families, including mine, do not have air conditioning.  I’d like to share a strategy my family has adopted to keep us comfortable most of the time.

Being scientists, my husband and I open and shut the doors, windows, and window shades of our house according to the temperature inside and outside of the house.  Figure 1 displays the air temperature of a typical day.


Figure 1. Temperatures around our house, and at NCAR’s Foothills Lab, about 3.3 kilometers to the east. To convert afternoon times to p.m., simply subtract 12.

We use the digital thermometers on our two furnaces for the temperature inside the living room and the room to the south.  The outside thermometer, on our deck, has not been properly shielded since we had to remove a tree.  Thus we include a nearby temperature measurement, from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Foothills Lab, for comparisons.

During the day, we typically keep the house closed up – this means all windows and doors closed and many shades down — until the air outside is cooler than the air in the house.  As you can see from the graph, this happens around 22:00 (or 10:00 p.m.) Mountain Daylight Time (MDT), so direct sunlight on the deck thermometer is no longer a problem.   Once the indoor and outdoor temperatures are equal, we open up the windows, and use fans to bring in the cool, outside air.  The following morning, if we are at home, we again close up windows and doors when the outside temperature increases to the same as the inside temperature.   During the week, we close up the house when we leave.  The net effect of this strategy is to keep the house cool during the day – more than 10 degrees cooler at the time of maximum outside temperature!

You might notice that the air temperature inside the house keeps increasing, long past the time of the maximum outside temperature.   This may seem odd at first, but it makes sense:  as long as the air outside the house is warmer than the air inside, the house will continue to be warmed.  Of course if we left the windows open all day, the high temperature inside the house would occur closer in time to the outside maximum temperature (and of course the temperatures would be closer as well).

How does this work from day to day?  Figure 2 compares the outside temperatures at Foothills Lab to our indoor temperatures between 9 June and 7 July.   The inside temperatures vary less during the day than those outside (as seen in Figure 1).  They also vary less from day to day.  The largest differences between inside and outside maximum temperatures are on the hottest days.


Figure 2.  Inside and outside temperatures from 9 June (Day 160) through 19 July (Day 200).

Notice that the inside minimum temperatures remain warmer than those outside, in spite of our trying to draw in outside air.  The house temperatures also vary less than the daily average temperatures, as seen in Figure 3.


Figure 3.  For the same period of time, but with daily average Foothills Lab temperature.

If you look carefully at Figure 2, you can see that the opening and closing strategy doesn’t work as well in late summer, with inside temperatures closer to outside temperatures.   This effect becomes even more obvious in Figure 4, which shows the difference between the inside and outside temperature maxima for the hottest days.  (Note that data weren’t collected every day in 2010, so there could have been more warm days.)


Figure 4.  Difference between living-room max temperature and that at Foothills when outside temperature exceeds 32o Celsius.

How is the indoor air temperature regulated at your home or school? Let us know by adding a comment!

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Next Generation Science Standards – Not the Common Core Tue, 26 Nov 2013 19:54:19 +0000 GLOBE Program Continue reading ]]> GLOBE teachers across the United States are hearing more and more everyday about the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).  My home state of Michigan was one of twenty-six Lead States that were involved in the process of reviewing the standards and Dave Bydlowskisuggesting changes.  Hopefully, Michigan will soon adopt the standards, which will replace our current Science Grade Level Content Expectations (GLCE) and High School Science Content Expectations (HSSCE).  Eight states have adopted the standards, as of this writing.  The development of the standards has taken nearly two and a half years.  But during this time, there still seems to be confusion in mistaking the NGSS with the Common Core.

The NGSS is NOT the Common Core in Science.  NGSS is a set of standards that were developed outside of the Common Core process.  There are a few reasons causing this confusion:

  1. They were developed during the adoption process of the Common Core.
  2. The Common Core in English Language Arts (ELA) contains literacy standards for science, which help students improve their ELA skills in the science content area, but they are not science standards.
  3. The NGSS contain connections to the Common Core.

A Standard in the Next Generation Science Standards is composed of three parts:

  1. Performance Expectation(s) which describe what a student is expected to do at the end of instruction.  Performance Expectations are composed of three dimensions – a science / engineering practice; a disciplinary core idea in life, physical or earth science; and a crosscutting concept which provides unity across the disciplines of science.
  2. Foundation Boxes which contain the learning goals that students should achieve through the science / engineering practices; disciplinary core ideas; and crosscutting concepts.  The information in the foundation boxes is taken directly from the “A Framework for K-12 Science Education” which provides the foundation for the standards.
  3. Connection Boxes, which identify science connections across grade levels and disciplines as well as identifying connections to the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics and ELA.

These connection boxes provide a wealth of information for teachers and curriculum developers in aligning and integrating science, mathematics and English Language Arts.  Screen Shot 2013-11-19 at 2.14.44 PMHere is an example of a standard from the NGSS that provides a connection to the Mathematics Common Core:

  • Grade Level – Middle School (6th – 8th Grade)
  • Topic – Weather and Climate
  • Performance Expectations
    • MS-ESS2-5. Collect data to provide evidence for how the motions and complex interactions of air masses results in changes in weather conditions.
    • MS-ESS2-6. Develop and use a model to describe how unequal heating and rotation of the Earth cause patterns of atmospheric and oceanic circulation that determine regional climates.
    • MS-ESS3-5. Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.
    • Connection Boxes for Mathematics
      • MP.2 – Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
      • 6.NS.C.5 – Understand that positive and negative numbers are used together to describe quantities having opposite directions or values (e.g., temperature above/below zero, elevation above/below sea level, credits/debits, positive/negative electric charge); use positive and negative numbers to represent quantities in real-world contexts, explaining the meaning of 0 in each situation.
      • 6.EE.B.6 – Use variables to represent numbers and write expressions when solving a real-world or mathematical problem; understand that a variable can represent an unknown number, or, depending on the purpose at hand, any number in a specified set.
      • 7.EE.B.4 – Use variables to represent quantities in a real-world or mathematical problem, and construct simple equations and inequalities to solve problems by reasoning about the quantities.

These connection boxes are an extremely important component of the NGSS.  Without the connection boxes, we do not have standards, we only have performance expectations with foundation descriptions containing learning goals.  There are rumors that some states will only adopt the performance expectations without the foundation and connection boxes.  This should be avoided at all costs.  One of the major goals of the NGSS is to have science standards, which coordinate with “Common Core Standards” in English Language Arts and Mathematics.

So, the next time you hear someone call the new science standards “the common core” remind them that they are not the common core, but they are a new set of science standards called the “Next Generation Science Standards,” which provide a critical connection to the common core in mathematics and ELA.

For more information, check out GLOBE’s NGSS Pinterest page and NGSS Webinars for resources and connections to NGSS.

David Bydlowski

GLOBE Partner — Wayne County Mathematics and Science Center at Wayne RESA


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Water scarcity: what it means for countries in the Near East and North Africa Wed, 30 Oct 2013 22:46:39 +0000 GLOBE Program Continue reading ]]>

Do you remember last year when we examined the Near East and North Africa region and the potential problems that the region could face with a changing climate? This region is characterized by the Arid desert hot (BWh) Koppen-Geiger climate classification*.  A BWh classification is one where the mean annual temperature is greater than or equal to 18 °C and is too dry to support most plants.  With this climate classification, the region is extremely sensitive to shifts in climate.   This means that even small changes in climate, especially with regards to precipitation, can have dramatic effects on water scarcity.

Water scarcity occurs when the demand for freshwater exceeds the supply.  The factors that help identify the region as  BWh point to a region which relies strongly on water that comes from rivers to supply both drinking water as well as water for irrigation.  It is estimated that by 2030, the entire Near East and North Africa Region will be experiencing water scarcity (as shown by the red in the map below). 

cropscience_imageCaption: Water scarcity in 2030, image from

Reliance on freshwater from rivers in the Near East and North Africa region has inspired the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to launch a regional initiative to address water scarcity.  The Near East and North Africa Land & Water Days will take place in December 2013. The purpose of this event is to bring together policy makers, practitioners, donors and researches to share and learn together new and effective ways to enhance land and water use practices. Sessions at the event will discuss land and water management and technologies, such as drip irrigation.

Summits such as this one are important because they bring many different types of people together to discuss the climate and how to avoid water scarcity collectively. Members of the GLOBE community are involved in this too.  For example, students from the Yamama School in Saudi Arabia demonstrated how they work together in their Earth Day video competition earlier this year.

Youtube-Yamam-SchoolEarth Day video

The students used GLOBE protocols to identify the suitability of their drinking water and soil for growing crops and then provided local farmers with information on how to improve their agricultural yield.  Students are asked to visit farms and carry out research applications.

They hope that through these practices they can spread environmental awareness among their society.  For more information on how GLOBE students work together to learn about their environment and act as stewards in their community, see the entire collection of Earth Day videos.

Suggested activity: Get involved in collecting data in your local area! Collecting any of the GLOBE atmosphere protocols is a great start to understanding your local climate better.  By collecting data and entering them into the GLOBE database, you can begin your observational record that you can watch change through the years.  Have you noticed anything that’s changed already?  We’d love to hear about it!  Leave us a comment, send us an email or let us know about it on our Facebook Page!

* The Köppen-Geiger Climate Classification is one of the most widely used classification systems for determining climate. It was developed by climatologist Wladimir Köppen , later modified by climatologist Rudolf Geiger in collaboration with Köppen. To learn more about how your area is classified, see the “What is Your Climate Classification?” Learning activity.


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Mt. Rainier: Rich in beauty and science Tue, 15 Oct 2013 21:42:17 +0000 GLOBE Program Continue reading ]]>

We’d like to welcome Dr. Angela Rowe as our guest blogger.  Dr. Rowe is currently a postdoctoral scholar (“postdoc”) at the University of Washington.  While living in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, she enjoys taking her science training outdoors as she explores the local landscape.  She recently hiked Mt. Rainier in Washington State, USA and wanted to share her experience.   

While sitting on the shores of Lake Washington on a sunny summer Seattle day, it’s difficult to miss the snowy tops of Mt. Rainier, which reaches 4.39 km above sea level. Since it’s nearly 2.5 km above the highest peaks of the adjacent Cascade Mountains, this volcano is greatly impacted by the storms that come in from the Pacific Ocean and is typically covered with snow well into the late summer.


View of Mt. Rainier from Lake Washington in Seattle, Summer 2013.

Paradise, an area located at roughly 1580 meters on the south slope of Mt. Rainier, is one of the snowiest places in the United States, receiving roughly 1600 cm of snow during an average winter. During the winter of 1971-72, it reached a record seasonal snowfall of 2850 cm – over 28 METERS of snow! With that kind of snowfall, it’s no surprise that glaciers cover over 90 square kilometers (km2) of the mountain. According to the National Parks Service, Mt. Rainier’s Emmons Glacier has the largest surface area (11.1 km2). On a recent trip to Paradise (that’s so nice to say, isn’t it?), I was able to see a stunning view of the Nisqually Glacier, although the top thousand meters of Mt. Rainier was lost in the clouds.


View of Nisqually Glacier on the south side of Rainier from Paradise. Summer 2013.

                Clouds are the norm at these high elevations, and although I didn’t see the top of the mountain on that day, I was lucky enough to be at an elevation at Paradise where I was in between the altostratus cloud layer that was hiding Rainier’s peak and the stratus deck below that was encompassing the lower elevations of the park. The tops of nearby mountain peaks of the Tatoosh Range peered through this lower cloud layer, and I must admit that this was one of the most breathtaking views I have ever seen.


View of the Tatoosh Range peeking through the clouds from Paradise. Summer 2013.

Descending down the range, into the foggy, moist world of the park, it was clear how diverse the environment is along the slopes of this mountain due to the varying climate over a large range of elevations. Mt. Rainier National Park is 953.5 km2, 97% of which is designated wilderness, and contains both old growth forests and subalpine meadows. These rich, diverse landscapes house a variety of birds, mammals, amphibians, fish, and reptiles. During one visit, I encountered a northwest garter snake (Thamnophis ordinoides), salamanders (Order Caudata), slugs (terrestrial gastropods), a snowshoe hair (Lepus americanus), mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), a ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus), and a surprisingly tame red-legged frog.


Photo of Rana Aurora (northern red-legged frog) near a stream. Summer 2013.

These moist forests are also home to a wide variety of fungus, from the fascinating corals to the common conks on old trees, and approximately 900 plant species, including colorful wildflowers. During a visit to the north side of the mountain, I even encountered the rare fairy slipper orchid (Calpyso bulbosa), appearing early in the summer after the snow melted at the lower elevations. What a beautiful sight!


A large conk grows on a tree trunk on the northern slopes of Mt. Rainier


The fairy slipper orchid (Calpyso bulbosa) growing near a river on the north side of Mt. Rainier.

When exploring the forests and snowfields of this mountain, it’s easy to forget that I’m standing on a volcano. The last eruption was estimated between 1820 and 1894 and geologists consider this mountain to be “episodically active”, meaning it will erupt again in the future. Since that last eruption, loss of glaciers has been over 20%, as the changing climate continues to influence precipitation patterns and temperature. Changes in the water cycle also affect tree growth and wildlife; a recent Mt Rainier National Park Climate workshop (March 2011), in addition to discussing these overall changes, also described a severe decline in amphibians overall in the western U.S., among other regions. While the direct cause and effects are still being sorted out, one thing that is clear is that the diverse environment of Mt. Rainier is changing. Although I’m aware of the risks of standing on an active volcano, it’s worth it to me to witness the frogs, mushrooms, old growth forests, glaciers and incredible clouds in this moment of time.

Suggested activity: Mt. Rainier isn’t the only such place to have such diverse biomes in a small area.  Mt. Kilimanjaro is another place.  GLOBE Students and Teachers have traveled up and down Kili and performed GLOBE protocols along the way.  You can read about their most recent experience here on the GLOBE Scientists’ Blog, as well as on the Xpedition’s pages.

Are you interested in clouds like the altostratus that Dr. Rowe observed? If so, visit the GLOBE Program’s Atmosphere investigation, where you’ll find learning activities and data collection protocols, as well as the GLOBE Cloud Chart to help you in identifying clouds.

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Measuring rainfall – it’s easy and difficult at the same time Mon, 30 Sep 2013 21:22:32 +0000 Julie Malmberg Continue reading ]]>

This week we welcome long-time friend of GLOBE, Dr. Peggy LeMone, Chief Scientist for the GLOBE Program from 2003-2009, as our guest blogger. Dr. LeMone is currently working in the field of weather and cloud formation at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

Originally posted at on September 23, 2013.

Dr. Peggy LeMone
Dr. Peggy LeMone,
Credit: UCAR

Dr. Peggy LeMone is an NCAR Senior Scientist who studies weather and cloud formation. For more information about her research, visit Peggy’s home page.

A guest post by NCAR scientist Peggy LeMone

The Boulder, Colorado area received huge amounts of rain in mid-September.  You also learned that rainfall amounts vary a lot. Which brings us to the questions – How do you measure rain?  And how accurate are the measurements?  Even though I have done weather research for many years, during this storm I was reminded how hard it is to measure rain accurately.

This is the story of my attempts to measure rain during the storm. It’s also about the many possible sources of error when making rain measurements – from old rain gauges to growing trees and even, possibly, inquisitive raccoons.

By Monday morning (September 16), I had measured over 16 inches, or 405 millimeters (mm), in our backyard rain gauge from the storm which began September 10.  The gauge is the same type the National Weather Service uses. It has a funnel that deposits rain into an inner tube with a smaller diameter (like this one), but bigger. The inner tube’s diameter is just small enough to make the depth of rain ten times what it would be in a gauge without the tube and funnel.  Thus, each inch in the tube is equivalent to 0.1 inches (a tenth of an inch) of rainfall.  This is equivalent to how the GLOBE rain gauge measures rain: the inner tube acts like a 10x magnifying glass for the area of the rain gauge.  This makes it easier to read accurately!

My gauge is old. I inherited it from a weather-observing neighbor who moved away.  The funnel and inner tube doesn’t quite fit, so, I leave the gauge open and then pour the rain into the inner tube using the funnel.

rain gauge

The rain gauge, Credit: Peggy LeMone

On the morning of September 12th, the gauge was so full and heavy, with over seven inches (178 mm) of rain that I decided to stick a meter stick in the gauge to measure the rain amount, and save pouring into the inner tube for the end of the storm.  The gauge tilts slightly, so I took a measurement on the uptilt side and the downtilt side and calculated an average.   That evening I found that the bottom of the gauge sagged in the middle, leading to an even deeper measurement than the downtilt side.  With these flaws, the lack of the ten-to-one exaggeration of depth, and some measurements being taken in the dark with a flashlight, my data were only approximate. I recorded measurements to within the nearest quarter inch (see the graph below).

Were my measurements accurate? On Friday morning, September 13, I took measurement using a more accurate method to compare with my estimates.  After bailing out five full tubes of rain, I poured the remaining water through the funnel into the tube to a depth of 13.5 inches (343 mm), spilling a little bit during this process.  The result was 0.38 inches (9.5 mm) more than my rough estimate from the night before – a storm total of 14.52 inches (369 mm) up to this time. On the graph, this is marked as 1. (The lower shows the uncorrected values.)

But the rain hadn’t stopped.  I awoke on the morning of September 15th and heard reports that up to 2 inches (51 mm) of rain fell overnight. I went outside to check our gauge – only to see that it had been knocked over (probably by raccoons).  Fortunately, I have a second rain gauge in my backyard – a plastic gauge that registered about 0.25 inches (6 mm). I added a conservative 0.2 inches (5 mm), since this gauge was under trees (marked as 2 on the graph).

The final number:  16.37 inches (416 mm) of rain, more or less.

graph showing total rainfall

Why do I add “more or less”?   Because there is uncertainty in the measurements. The metal gauge had been in the same place for several years, but I have moved it in the past year away from a growing tree.  I noticed on September 13 that the tree had intruded again: the end of one branch was about 10-15 feet (2-3 meters) over the gauge, or slightly to the east. Runoff from this branch could have added to the total before I moved the gauge four feet (~1 meter) to the west for the last two measurements.  It is also possible that the 0.98 inches (25 mm) could be high, but I doubt it: I had briefly run a sprinkler hose at a low setting, but I had moved the gauge out of the way and I turned the water off immediately once the rain started.  Switching the rain gauges adds uncertainty and so does the previously-mentioned spillage when I poured the remaining water in the gauge into the tube. Also, because my rain gauge was open at the top, some of the water could have evaporated, although evaporation was probably minimal, given the high relative humidity.

looking up from rain gauge

Looking up from where the rain gauge was before Time 2. The tree is to the north and east. Credit: Peggy LeMone

The exposure of the rain gauge is undoubtedly the greatest source of error.  According to the National Weather Service and CoCoRAHS (both of which use citizen volunteers to measure rainfall), “exposure” of the rain gauge is important. Rain may be blocked by nearby obstacles causing the number to be lower than it should. Or, rain may be blown into or away from the gauge by wind gusts.  The recommendation is that the gauge be about twice the distance from the height of the nearest obstacles, but still sheltered from the wind.

The gauge was certainly sheltered from the wind.  It is located about 10 feet (~2 meters) south of the house, which is about 15 feet (5 meters) high, and to the west of a fence and small trees as well as the tree in the photograph.   There is a much smaller tree to the southwest.

All the obstacles suggest that some rain could have been blocked from reaching the gauge, which would imply that the rainfall total is too small.  On the other hand, some rain might have been running down the branch in the picture. (In fact, because of the large amount, I thought this might be the main effect before doing some research on exposure)

It is also recommended that the gauge be level, which it wasn’t.  I’m not too worried about this, since it was nearly vertical.

The conclusion?  There was a lot of rain.  It could have been an inch (25 mm) more or less than my measurement. Acknowledging this is called reporting error. It doesn’t mean that the measurements are wrong, it just gives an idea of how accurate they are. My total was not the largest; there were at least two other measurements near 18 inches (457 mm).

Now that I’ve described all that can go wrong measuring rainfall, let me add that, putting a rain gauge in the right place, and taking an accurate rainfall measurement is fairly easy. If you have a perfect cylinder, such as a GLOBE rain gauge, simply stick a ruler in and read the depth (make sure to correct for any offset of the “zero” line and correct for this offset; and see if the ruler pushes the water level up very much).

If you don’t have a rain gauge but have a bucket (or glass) with sides that aren’t straight up and down, you’ll need to do a little math to figure it out. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  1. Measure the diameter of the bucket at the level of the rain.  Subtract out twice the thickness of the walls.
  2. Measure the diameter of the bucket at the bottom in the same way.
  3. Calculate the average of the two diameters.
  4. Divide by two to find the average radius.
  5. Find the average volume of rain = Depth x radius x radius x 3.14.
  6. Find the area at the top of the bucket (this is the area over which the rain is collected).
    1. Measure the diameter
    2. Divide the diameter by 2 to get the radius
    3. Area = radius x radius x 3.14 (remember that Area = pi x radius2)
  7. Divide the rainfall volume by this area to get the rainfall.

It would be an interesting activity to put several buckets (or rain gauges) in different places in a field, your back yard, or your schoolyard to see how much the measurements vary within the area. Soup cans, though not perfect, would work pretty well for the activity, especially if they’re the same size.  I might try this during the next rainstorm.  (I hope not too soon!)

Does your school collect precipitation data? Have you had an extreme weather event that you were able to record? Let us know by adding a comment!

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The transition seasons – why measurements now are very important Wed, 11 Sep 2013 15:00:12 +0000 GLOBE Program Continue reading ]]> The seasons of spring and autumn are seasons of transition in the mid-latitudes – they hold onto memories of the season before while providing glimpses of the season to come.  Recently, the Northern Hemisphere transitioned into meteorological fall, including the months of September, October, and November.  As September begins, daytime high temperatures remember summer’s warmth, yet a few weeks to months later are dramatically different.  Mornings spent with a slight chill in the air soon require additional layers to prevent the cold.  These transitions can happen over a few short weeks or extend through the months.

It is the change to these transitions, such as the average date of first frost, that are an important key to understanding a changing climate.  Even small changes can have a large effect on migrating birds.  The date of first or last frost can prompt birds to begin their flight patterns either too early or too late, which puts their survival at risk.  The Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris), for example, may be prompted to migrate later due to temperatures remaining warm late into autumn.  However, as they migrate, they may encounter colder weather due to a transitioning Arctic weather system.  If they left their summering location at their normal time, they would avoid these extreme weather events.  You can see the normal migration pattern of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird in the map below.

Image from Journey North, depicting the migratory route of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird.  Finish is their wintering location in Costa Rica

Image from Journey North, depicting the migratory route of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Finish is their wintering location in Costa Rica

This idea is further supported in the following map, which was produced by the Audubon Society and NOAA which shows that migrating birds are spending their winters farther north due to warming temperatures.  The light blue dots symbolize the general location each species wintered in 1966-1967. The dark blue dots connected by the line represent where the species wintered in 2005-2006.

Map showing changes in wintering location for various bird species from 1966-67 to 2005-06.  From Audubon Society and NOAA

Map showing changes in wintering location for various bird species from 1966-67 to 2005-06. From Audubon Society and NOAA

In some cases, these birds are more than 650 km from their 1966-1967 wintering location.  In addition to putting the birds in the path of transitioning weather patterns, dramatic shifts like these can upset the delicate balance of local ecosystems; insects and plants that these birds naturally prey on may quickly become over-populated if the migrating birds are wintering elsewhere. An example of this can be seen in the Elementary GLOBE book, “The Mystery of the Missing Hummingbirds.”

As we venture further into autumn in the Northern Hemisphere and spring in the Southern Hemisphere, it is important to keep an eye to our GLOBE instruments to monitor the changes that are affecting not only birds, but plants and other creatures that rely on weather changes for their survival.

You, as a GLOBE student, are given a unique opportunity to collect and submit data that can be used to study the transition seasons.  Students in the Kingdom of Bahrain are already examining this change in order to understand how the birds are adapting to their changing climate.   Be sure to start performing basic protocols, such as air temperature, precipitation and soil temperature, and add in other phenological protocols, such as Ruby-throated Hummingbird observations, arctic bird migration and green up or green down, to monitor these important transition season events.  And be sure to let us know about your research as it develops. These activities also help students understand the Next Generation Science Standards of Crosscutting Concepts, such as “Cause and Effect” and “Systems and System Models,” found in the progression of Earth Systems Science.

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GLOBE after graduation: A civil engineer’s story Wed, 04 Sep 2013 15:00:45 +0000 GLOBE Program Continue reading ]]> Many students find a love for science through the GLOBE Program.  They discover the world around them and make connections and discoveries that they may not have otherwise found.  And while their grade school days are limited, their experience with GLOBE is not.  Mohamed Elwan, a civil engineer working in water and water quality management, is a great example.

Mohamed Elwan, Civil Engineer and GLOBE Egypt Alumnus

Mohamed Elwan, Civil Engineer and GLOBE Egypt Alumnus

Mohamed is a GLOBE Alumnus who lives and works in Egypt.  GLOBE Alumni are former GLOBE students who work with GLOBE Country Coordinators or U.S. Partners to implement GLOBE in their local schools and community.  Mohamed joined the GLOBE Program as a student in 2001 and it ignited his passion for environmental science.  Because of this passion, he pursued a career in civil engineering where he can use his excitement every day in his career.

GLOBE Students, who are all now GLOBE Alumni, perform protocols in 2001. The students from left to right are Mohamed Abdel Fattah, Mohamed Saad and Mohamed Elwan.

GLOBE Students, who are all now GLOBE Alumni, perform protocols in 2001. The students from left to right are Mohamed Abdel Fattah, Mohamed Saad and Mohamed Elwan.

Like many others in the environmental sciences, his career has taken many turns.  But through it all, he has stayed true to his passion for making a positive impact on the environment.  His civil engineering career started through design and building water and waste water tanks.  He then transitioned into a position that worked closely with a project at Cairo’s airport and now has settled in as a quality control/quality analyst for a consulting firm who specializes in environmental and infrastructural (such as highway and systems) studies in the Middle East.

Through his work, he has found excitement in knowing that he gets to work in the details of water and waste water projects to make plans that will change people’s lives.  As each project differs from the previous, he draws on his experience with GLOBE and his desire to help the environment to make sure each project is completed the right way.  He knows that his work is important, as he said “every non-scientist knows how important [water is] to our life.”

And while his GLOBE experience has helped him in his career, becoming a GLOBE Alumnus has presented opportunities that he may not have otherwise experienced.  He was able to attend a lecture by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden at the American University in Egypt, visit the Siwa Oasis, and attend the Near East and North Africa Regional Meeting in the Kingdom of Bahrain in 2003.  What future opportunities will present themselves to Mohamed? Only time will tell.

Mohamed at the Siwa Oasis

Mohamed at the Siwa Oasis

Mohamed and members of the GLOBE Lebanon team at the 2003 Near East and North Africa Regional Meeting in the Kingdom of Bahrain

Mohamed and members of the GLOBE Lebanon team at the 2003 Near East and North Africa Regional Meeting in the Kingdom of Bahrain

Suggested activity: Are you a former GLOBE student who would like to reconnect with the GLOBE Program?  Visit the GLOBE website to register as a GLOBE Alumni.  If you’ve also pursued additional education or a career as a scientist, consider joining the GLOBE International Scientist Network.  You can find more information on criteria for membership here.


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Why do you “Do GLOBE”? Wed, 28 Aug 2013 15:00:01 +0000 GLOBE Program Continue reading ]]> This month, we at the GLOBE Program Office (GPO) in Boulder, Colorado are asking the worldwide GLOBE community one simple question: “Why do you do GLOBE?”.  They have shared their answers with us by recording a short video (using a cell phone camera). Then they are uploading short video clips directly to our website. Here’s what we are learning: The reasons why people do GLOBE around the world is as diverse as the community who participates in the Program. And, now it’s your turn to join the fun.

When GLOBE students from around the world gathered at the 17th Annual GLOBE Partner Meeting in Maryland, USA (August 11-16) to share research and make new friends, a large group of female students from Croatia, Nigeria and the United States made an “I Do GLOBE” video in which they stated, “We do GLOBE because it brings us all together.” followed by laughter from the entire group and some on-lookers.

After making the video, the girls from the United States teach the others some new country line dancing moves

After making the video, the girls from the United States teach the others some new country line dancing moves

Ylliass Lawani, GLOBE Alumni from Benin, does GLOBE because he likes science, because he likes the environment and because he likes to smile. He didn’t know a program like GLOBE could teach him as much as it has and gave him the ability to practice leadership.

Ylliass during the 2013 GLOBE Africa Regional Meeting

Ylliass during the 2013 GLOBE Africa Regional Meeting

Maria Lorraine de Ruiz-Alma, Country Coordinator for the Dominican Republic and teacher at Notre Dame School, told us that she does GLOBE because she loves nature and by doing GLOBE, she can feed her curious mind with its wonders, understanding that we are part of a system that we can influence and where we share the responsibility to preserve and protect.

Amarachi (GLOBE Student from Nigeria), Maria, and Dr. Jim Washburne during the 17th Annual GLOBE Partner Meeting

Amarachi (GLOBE Student from Nigeria), Maria, and Dr. Jim Washburne during the 17th Annual GLOBE Partner Meeting

Dr. Jodi Haney, GLOBE U.S. Partner at Bowling Green State University, says she does GLOBE because we only have one Earth. She believes it is our responsibility to be good stewards of the earth, and a way to do that is through GLOBE.  Monitoring the earth and sharing our collective observed data gives us all the ability to more fully understand the implications of our actions.

Maria and Nigerian Student Amarachi and Dr. Jim Washburne during the 17th Annual GLOBE Partner Meeting

Dr. Jodi Haney and her students during the 2nd Annual Student Research Exhibition

Now, we want to hear from you.

Step 1: Use your cell phone video camera and video tape yourself finishing this sentence: “I Do GLOBE because …”. Keep the video short; 30-seconds is perfect.

It's easy to make a video - just have a friend tape you while you finish the sentence: "I Do GLOBE because..."

It’s easy to make a video – just have a friend tape you while you finish the sentence: “I Do GLOBE because…”

Step 2: Upload your video(s) to our website.

Step 3: Check out our Facebook and YouTube channels to watch yourself and others in action.

Be creative and have fun recording your video and let the world know why you Do GLOBE.

Suggested activity: Go to our webpage and watch the video we put together for you. It might inspire you or spark some ideas for the video you create. After you videotape your own video, upload it directly to the same page of our webiste

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GLOBE Students Present Their Research, Part II: The 2nd Annual Student Research Exhibition Wed, 21 Aug 2013 15:18:52 +0000 GLOBE Program Continue reading ]]> Last week we highlighted the 2013 GLOBE Virtual Student Conference, a showcase of student research being performed using GLOBE protocols.  This week, the focus is on the 2nd Annual Student Research Exhibition, an event that features GLOBE Country Coordinator or U.S. Partner sponsored student research projects.

Last year, the 1st Annual Student Research Exhibition (formerly the Student Science Symposium) was held in St. Paul, Minnesota in conjunction with the 16th Annual GLOBE Partner Meeting.  After the great success of the event, the decision was made to make it an annual event in an attempt to involve GLOBE Students in the GLOBE Partner Meetings.  In May of 2013, the call for nominations for student research projects to participate in this event was sent to all GLOBE Country Coordinators and U.S. Partners in the hopes that this event would include the top research from each area.

The 2nd Annual Student Research Exhibition event was held on Monday, 12 August, 2013 in conjunction with the 17th Annual GLOBE Partner meeting in Hyattsville, Maryland, USA.  Ten countries participated in the one night event, which included over 70 students from all grade levels.  Those ten countries, Argentina, Croatia, Madagascar, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, United States, and Uruguay , represented all GLOBE regions, and schools presented their research either in-person, through a poster presentation, or virtually, via either a video or PowerPoint presentation.  Additionally, each of the 33 research projects performed protocols in at least one of the 5 GLOBE investigation areas.

A student from Saudi Arabia presents her research during the 2nd Annual Student Research Exhibiton

A student from Saudi Arabia presents her research during the 2nd Annual Student Research Exhibiton

In addition to the breadth of research topics and protocols used, students approached their research differently.  One student worked on her own to understand sea surface temperature.  There was a group of students who explored how they could harness fresh water for use at their school.  Another project was collaborative between three countries, Argentina, Peru, and Uruguay, and it explored how ENSO and human activities are affecting their land cover.  While these are just a sampling of the projects, each research team presented outstanding research to the greater GLOBE community.

All student projects were judged on pre-determined criteria by members of the GLOBE International Scientist Network.  The projects were judged on a maximum of 100 points in the areas of creative ability, use of GLOBE data, scientific expression, thoroughness, knowledge achieved and clarity.

With these criteria in mind, the following projects were the winners of the 2nd Annual Student Research Exhibition.

In third place, representing the country of Croatia and the GLOBE Europe and Eurasia Region was the project entitled Water quality and the revitalization potential of Mrtvi Kanal Channel, studied by students at Medicinska skola u Rijeci.

Students from Medicinska skola u Rijeci stand with their teacher in front of their poster

Students from Medicinska skola u Rijeci stand with their teacher in front of their poster

In second place, representing the country of Thailand and the GLOBE Asia and Pacific Region was the project entitled Measured concentration of nitrate in water from the bulb of Wetland plan Nepnthes in Bung Khong Long, Thailand, studied by students at Bung Khong Long Wittayakom School.

Students from Bung Khong Long Wittayakom school accept their second place award with their teacher

Students from Bung Khong Long Wittayakom school accept their second place award with their teacher

And in first place, representing the country of the United States and the GLOBE North America Region was the project entitled Correlations between vernal pool phenology and a breeding population of Bufo americanus in Dearborn Heights, Michigan, studied by students at Crestwood High School.  You can read a summary of this winning project here.

Students from Crestwood High School show off their award with GLOBE Program Office Scientist Jessica Mackaro

Students from Crestwood High School show off their award with GLOBE Program Office Scientist Jessica Mackaro

The GLOBE Program would like to extend a big thank you to all of the scientists, teachers and students who were involved in this fantastic event.

If you’ve been performing research, you don’t need to wait for the Virtual Student Conference or the Student Research Exhibition to share your research with the GLOBE Community.  You can submit projects year round through the “Tell Us About It” link on your school’s page.  Additionally, if you’re a scientist who would like to be involved in The GLOBE Program, be sure to visit the GLOBE International Scientist Network page to find out more information.

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