The Community Cloud Atlas

Blog originally posted on The GLOBE Scientists' Blog:


During our time in the Atmospheric Science doctoral program at Colorado State University (CSU), we would take breaks from frustrating programming efforts and run upstairs to the roof of the building to take pictures of clouds. We would identify them by name, describe the conditions in which they were forming, and head back inside to see if we could put them within the context of the radar and satellite imagery. As our collection continued to grow, we started to discuss the idea of creating a joint webpage or, at the very least, a shared online photo album to organize our cloud pictures from CSU and from our individual collections before those years. Unfortunately, this was also the time that we were both trying to finish up our dissertations, the final stage before the completion of a doctoral degree, and the cloud atlas simply remained a fun idea for the future. Eventually, Nick took a postdoctoral position at the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, OK and Angela accepted a postdoctoral position at the University of Washington in Seattle.

As we both settled into our new jobs in new locations, we continued to add to our collection and decided that we were finally ready to start cataloging our pictures. By creating a Facebook page, not only could we easily organize and share our pictures, but it would also allow the opportunity for others to share their pictures with us. Thus the Community Cloud Atlas was born.

The goal of our page is to create an open environment for the public to share their pictures of the sky, identify clouds, and to discuss how they form and what they can tell us about the current and upcoming weather. We have created individual photo albums for each cloud type and are trying to fill them with pictures from all over the world.


We are excited by the large variety of clouds that are represented so far, from the rare mammatus clouds to everyday fair-weather cumulus; we want to see them all! Not sure what the cloud is? No problem! Post it to our page and we’ll identify it for you. Do you just want to show off that beautiful sunset? Great! We would love to see it!


While we have no specific long-term plans for this page, we have already been asked by folks at NOVA to contribute pictures (with permission from the photographers) to their upcoming Cloud Lab project. It will be exciting to see how this project progresses and we look forward to an expanding community of cloud lovers!

Suggested activity: Take some photographs while you do your cloud observations, submit them to the Community Cloud Atlas on Facebook and be sure to submit your data to the GLOBE database.  Also be sure to share the photographs with The GLOBE Program – you can send them via email or post them to our Facebook Page.

Note: This blog post was co-written with Dr. Nick Guy, co-creator of The Community Cloud Atlas.  Nick received his PhD from Colorado State University and his research focuses on intersections within the field of Atmospheric Science.  He is interested in how physical processes that occur at different spatial scales vary and interact.