Climate and Land Cover Intensive Observing Period

To get started, use the following links to download the:

  1. Climate and Land Cover Project Teacher's Participation Guide

  2. Sample Site Selection and Set-up Guide

  3. Land Cover Sample Site Protocol

  4. Land Cover Investigation: Sample Site Data Sheet

  5. Modified UNESCO Classification (MUC) Field Guide


To involve students in short-term and long-term scientific studies focused on climate and land cover near their school and in comparisons with schools across the globe as a contribution to scientific research and modeling efforts of scientists.


The Climate and Land Cover Intensive Observing Period is a research effort between GLOBE schools and climate scientists to improve land cover classifications for climate models. Using GLOBE land cover protocols, students take photographs and classify representative land cover areas near their schools and upload these data to the GLOBE database. These data can be used by students to compare land cover around the world and will be used by scientists to improve land cover classifications for climate models.


Although photographs can be taken and uploaded at any time throughout the year, land cover scientists have identified key times that are representative of the peak seasonal conditions for vegetation. This peak time will vary across latitude and continents depending on factors such as climate variability, proximity to water, elevation, topography, and other conditions like drought or impacts due to extreme events. To enable schools to participate during periods with the most representative seasonal vegetation where maximum participation can occur, the following focused intensive observing periods (IOPs) for Climate and Land Cover have been designated, beginning October 2012:

  Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul
Climate and Land Cover   X     X     X     X


What to do and how to do it

1. Collect land cover data and site photographs

  • Identify and establish a representative Land Cover Study Site, if your school has not previously established a study site. Refer to the Sample Site Selection and Set-up guide for information regarding identification and establishment of a land cover site that is representative of local land cover.
  • Follow the Land Cover Sample Site Protocol directions for collecting land cover data and record data on the Land Cover Investigation: Sample Site Data Sheet. High quality, labeled, site photographs of uniform and representative sites are particularly important for the CLC project!
  • Use the Modified UNESCO Classification MUC Field Guide to classify the land cover at your site.


2. Report data to the GLOBE database

  • Select the "Enter Data" button below to enter your land cover data and photographs.  You will be asked to log into the GLOBE website if you are not currently logged in.
  • Find your land cover site in the list of your previously-defined sites, or define a new site using the "Define, Edit, or Update a Site" link at the bottom of your data entry page.  
  • To enter your MUC classification and other (optional) Land Cover Sample Site data, click the procedure "Land Cover/Biology Measurements" for your land cover site.  
  • To upload your land cover photos, click "Upload photos" below your land cover site name.  Be sure to upload four photos: one photo for each cardinal direction (north, south, east, and west).


3. View land cover data and site photographs

Land cover photographs entered before July 2012 can be viewed in the new GLOBE visualization system (the database and visualization system are still being updated and so you cannot yet view your most recent photos).  Once you enter the visualization system, go to "Data Layers" in the upper left part of the map, hit the "Add +" option and choose Land Cover Photos from the Protocol drop down menu.  Then click on a school with land cover photos from the map, and you can select which dates from a drop down menu within the school's land cover photos view window.


4. Apply and extend your knowledge


Need help?

Email Land Cover Help if you have questions about the Climate and Land Cover IOP or need help completing the project.