STEM Professionals' Blog


The GLOBE International STEM professionals Network (GISN) Blog is an online collaborative effort where scientists associated with GLOBE post their thoughts, comments, and philosophies about a variety of science topics.

GLOBE strongly encourages positive and productive discussions to further advance the scientific understanding of all involved with The GLOBE Program.




From the start, the measurement of daily maximum and minimum air temperature within one hour of local solar noon has been a key GLOBE protocol. The low cost approach was to use a U-tube thermometer housed in a wooden instrument shelter facing away from the equator. The U-shaped tube contained mercury with pins on either side of the mercury. As the air temperature warmed the pin on one side would move while the other pin stayed in place; when the air cooled, the pin on the other side would be pushed up. The pins were held in place by magnetized strips behind the thermometer tube so that...


Posted in: Curriculum: Technology STEM GLOBE Science Topics: Climate Climate Change GLOBE Protocols Earth as a System Earth System Science GLOBE Working Groups: Science Working Group Investigation Areas: Atmosphere Primary Audience: Alumni Country Coordinators Partners Scientists Students Teachers Trainers

As Earth science has a single uncontrolled object of study, the first rule is to take today’s data today. While ice and sediment cores and fossils can reveal past conditions, the observations that can be made right now cannot be replaced by ones taken later. This goes well with the Native American adage, “You can’t step in the same river twice.” The environment is constantly changing and doing so on a wide range of time and space scales. In a recent video post, Neil deGrasse Tyson said, “One of the great things about science is that it is an entire exercise finding what is true. You...


Posted in: Curriculum: Science and Math Event Topics: Campaigns and Projects (IOPs, etc) GLOBE Learning Expeditions Science Symposia and Fairs Field Campaigns: SMAP El Niño GLOBE Science Topics: Climate Climate Change General Science Earth as a System Earth System Science Investigation Areas: Earth As a System Primary Audience: Alumni Students Teachers

A version of this blog was originally posted on November 14, 2012 .  If you have been listening to the news or following along with weather and climate web pages, you have probably heard the term "ENSO."  ENSO, or El Niño-Southern Oscillation, is a quasi-periodic climate pattern that occurs in the tropical Pacific Ocean.  When the conditions change, the atmosphere responds in many different ways.  In certain locations, it is cloudier and it rains more, while in others it’s clear and dry.  Scientists are forecasting El Niño conditions to start...


Posted in: Curriculum: Science and Math GLOBE Science Topics: Climate Investigation Areas: Atmosphere

Blog originally posted on The GLOBE Scientists' Blog: http://blog.globe.gov/sciblog/2013/03/06/connecting-pollutants-and-air-temperature-in-the-maldives/ With climate change, there are many relationships that are understood, and many others that are not.  Dr. Veerabhadran Ramanathan from The Scripps Institute  in San Diego has spent the last fifteen years in the Maldives, a nation south of India that is comprised of over 1,200 islands, studying the relationship between air pollutants, cloud formation and air temperature. The Maldives are a great location for...


Posted in: Field Campaigns: Carbon Cycle GLOBE Science Topics: Climate Climate Change General Science Investigation Areas: Atmosphere

A couple of years ago, I attended a seminar sponsored by the Climate and Global Dynamics Division  (CGD) of the National Center for Atmospheric Research  (NCAR) on how climate change is threatening the survival of wolverines ( Gulo gulo ).  This scientist, Synte Peacock from CGD, painted a gloomy outlook for this ferocious creature after using a climate model to examine changes in spring snow cover and summer air temperatures.    However, recent legislative proposals may make the future a little brighter.   A...


Posted in: GLOBE Science Topics: Climate Climate Change

Blog originally posted on The GLOBE Scientists' Blog: http://blog.globe.gov/sciblog/2013/01/30/an-interesting-relationship-soil-temperature-and-climate-change/ It seems common place that warmer air temperature leads to warmer soil temperature. And while this relationship seems intuitive, the effect isn’t always studied, especially with respect to the response from microorganisms. That is why researchers are investigating what happens when the soil temperature increases. An intricate network of soil microorganisms From: Commonwealth Scientific and...


Posted in: GLOBE Science Topics: Climate Climate Change Investigation Areas: Pedosphere (Soil) » Soil Temperature

Blog originally posted on the GLOBE Scientists' Blog: http://blog.globe.gov/sciblog/2013/01/23/trees-in-trouble-what-affect-does-tree-mortality-have-on-climate-change/ Through our trees in trouble series, we’ve examined trees in the Sahel zone in Africa and the United States .  This problem, climate change and dying trees, has been seen on every continent, the only exception being Antarctica, due to the lack of vegetation on the frozen continent.   Scientists have recently found that there is an alarming loss rate of big, old trees, whose ages range from...


Posted in: GLOBE Science Topics: Climate Climate Change General Science Investigation Areas: Atmosphere Biosphere

Blog previously posted on The GLOBE Scientists' Blog: http://blog.globe.gov/sciblog/2013/01/16/a-tale-of-two-extremes/ Weather extremes have become a common theme in the news headlines the past few weeks. For example, nearly every part of the United States has been experiencing one of two extremes – either frigid cold or record-breaking high temperatures. Places like Arizona and California experienced below-freezing temperatures, which can have potential impacts on the crops grown in these typically balmy regions. In contrast, cities in the Southeast U.S., such as Atlanta,...


Posted in: GLOBE Science Topics: Climate Climate Change Investigation Areas: Atmosphere

Blog originally posted on the GLOBE Scientists' Blog:  http://blog.globe.gov/sciblog/2012/12/19/the-chicken-and-egg-story-of-global-warming-and-extreme-droughts-a-lesson-on-climate-feedbacks/ I recently read that the extreme drought in western North America during 2000-2004 actually resulted in more carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere. In the article in Nature Geoscience , it explained that such droughts can further enhance global warming. When a drought occurs, the plants wither and die and no longer uptake carbon dioxide (normally living plants serve as a...


Posted in: GLOBE Science Topics: Climate Climate Change

Blog originally posted on The GLOBE Scientists' Blog:  http://blog.globe.gov/sciblog/2012/11/14/esno-basics-what-is-it/ Through many posts here on the Scientists’ Blog, we, in one way or another, discuss ENSO.  ENSO, or El Niño-Southern Oscillation, is a quasi-periodic climate pattern that occurs in the tropical Pacific Ocean.  When the conditions change, the atmosphere responds in many different ways.  In certain locations, it is cloudier and it rains more, while in others it’s clear and dry.  Through our “ENSO Basics” series, we’ll take a look at ENSO in...


Posted in: GLOBE Science Topics: Climate Climate Change General Science

Blog originally posted on The GLOBE Scientists' Blog:  http://blog.globe.gov/sciblog/2012/11/08/non-stationarity-new-vocabulary-for-a-changing-climate/ A few years ago I attended a workshop for early career scientists to discuss frontiers in integrated water-climate-society vulnerability and adaptation science. This interdisciplinary area of science focuses on the need for using scientific information to not only identify communities that are vulnerable to climate change, but to also help create effective approaches for communities to adapt to climate change. Since every...


Posted in: GLOBE Science Topics: Climate Climate Change

Blog originally posted on the GLOBE Scientists' Blog:  http://blog.globe.gov/sciblog/2012/11/01/full-circle-superior-part-iv-changing-superior-changing-industry/ This week we pick back up on our Full Circle Superior Series.  In 2010 Mike Link and Kate Crowley chose to walk around the largest fresh water lake in the world – Lake Superior which has shoreline in both Canada and the United States. This 1555 mile/145 day walk was the first ever by a couple and the first to attempt to stay on the shoreline. Because Mike and Kate are educators in their sixties they wanted to...


Posted in: GLOBE Science Topics: Backyard Science Climate Climate Change

Blog originally posted on the GLOBE Scientists' Blog:  http://blog.globe.gov/sciblog/2012/10/19/supercomputing-and-climate-research-high-resolution-long-time-simulations-to-improve-our-understanding/ Have you ever watched a newscast and the on-air meteorologist mentions “according to our weather models, our best chances for rain will occur between the hours of 6 and 9 pm”? Have you wondered what exactly are those models they’re talking about? A weather model is a series of equations that take a look at an initial state of the atmosphere (such as the temperature,...


Posted in: GLOBE Science Topics: Climate General Science

Blog originally posted on The GLOBE Scientists' Blog:  http://blog.globe.gov/sciblog/2012/10/05/xpedition-review-reflections-back-and-looking-ahead/ To say that the journey to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro was a success would not do justice to the wonderful personal and scientific experiences the team had.  From taking the first steps toward the summit on Sunday 23 September to summiting the following week and boarding flights to return home, each team member gained something that will stay with them forever. Collecting data in the rainforest ...


Posted in: Field Campaigns: Seasons and Biomes GLOBE Science Topics: Climate Climate Change

Blog originally posted on the GLOBE Scientists' Blog:  http://blog.globe.gov/sciblog/2012/10/04/xpedition-day-ten-mweka-camp-to-park-gate/ Monday, 1 October was the final day of The Xpedition. After an exciting summit day, the team continues on their descent and is picked up to head back to Arusha, where they will enjoy a well-deserved meal. Unloading the equipment after a successful trip  Throughout the entire journey, the team relied on the use of porters, who are local Tanzanians who carry equipment up the mountain. These porters are essential to a...


Posted in: Field Campaigns: Seasons and Biomes GLOBE Science Topics: Climate Climate Change

Blog originally posted on The GLOBE Scientists' Blog:  http://blog.globe.gov/sciblog/2012/10/03/xpedition-day-nine-special-crater-camp-to-summit-to-mweka-camp/ On Sunday, 30 September, the team made it to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. The summit sits at 5,895 m (19,340 ft) above sea level. What a fantastic accomplishment for the team!   Team at the summit Hiking on a glacier near the summit After the team spendt time celebrating their success, they began their descent, stopping at 3,200 m (10,498 ft) at Mweka Camp. To celebrate the...


Posted in: Field Campaigns: Seasons and Biomes GLOBE Science Topics: Climate Climate Change

Blog originally posted on The GLOBE Scientists' Blog:  http://blog.globe.gov/sciblog/2012/10/01/xpedition-day-eight-kosovo-camp-to-special-crater-camp/ As you may have noticed, the Scientist Blog was quiet for the past two days.  As is to be expected, things can change rapidly on the mountain and the ability for the team to send us their daily blogs was interrupted.  The team safely continued on their journey, and have sent us their blogs. Day Eight was Saturday, 29 September.  The team journeyed from 4,877 m (16,000 ft) to 5,608 m (18,399 ft).  This...


Posted in: Field Campaigns: Seasons and Biomes GLOBE Science Topics: Climate Climate Change

Blog originally posted on The GLOBE Scientists' Blog:  http://blog.globe.gov/sciblog/2012/09/28/xpedition-day-seven-karanga-camp-to-kossovo-camp/ Today the team continues on their journey to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro by traveling from the Karanga Camp, situated at 3,962 m (12,998 ft), to the Kossovo Camp at 4,877 m (16,000 ft). This leg of the journey takes the team back to the alpine desert biome. Part of the team stops for a photo While this biome is found on Mt. Kilimanjaro, it is also found in many other mountain ranges, including but not limited to...


Posted in: Field Campaigns: Seasons and Biomes GLOBE Science Topics: Climate Climate Change

Blog originally posted on The GLOBE Scientists' Blog:  http://blog.globe.gov/sciblog/2012/09/27/xpedition-day-six-lava-tower-to-karanga-camp/ A morning at camp  The team is now over halfway done with their trek to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.  The journey began on Sunday 23 September as the team left Basecamp and hiked to Forest Camp.  You can read all about their journey starting here . A view of Mt. Kilimanjaro from the trail  Today’s part of the trek up Kilimanjaro takes the team back down in elevation,...


Posted in: Field Campaigns: Seasons and Biomes GLOBE Science Topics: Climate Climate Change

Blog originally posted on The GLOBE Scientists' Blog:  http://blog.globe.gov/sciblog/2012/09/26/xpedition-day-five-moir-hut-to-lava-tower/ Today marks another transition between biomes – from heath zone to alpine desert.  An alpine desert is a harsh, dry, windy region that consists of mostly bare rock and ice.  Temperatures during the day can soar to 38°C, while at night can be below freezing.  The air is very thin, which results in labored breathing as well as more intense solar radiation.  The Lava Tower camp sits at approximately 5,029 m (16,499 ft). ...


Posted in: Field Campaigns: Seasons and Biomes GLOBE Science Topics: Climate Climate Change

Blog originally posted on The GLOBE Scientists' Blog:  http://blog.globe.gov/sciblog/2012/09/25/xpedition-day-four-shira-1-camp-to-moir-hut/ Today the team will hike from Shira 1 Camp to Moir Hut (Shira 2 Camp on the map below).  This part of the journey will take the team further into the heath zone.  As discussed yesterday , the heath zone is a zone of sparse vegetation due to lower rainfall amounts.   The route the team is taking: the western approach route The team stops for a discussion about soils Today’s question focuses on...


Posted in: Field Campaigns: Seasons and Biomes GLOBE Science Topics: Climate Climate Change

Blog originally posted on The GLOBE Scientists' Blog:  http://blog.globe.gov/sciblog/2012/09/24/xpedition-day-three-forest-camp-to-shira-1-camp/ Today the team heads from 2,438 m to 3,505 m above sea level.  This portion of the journey will take the team from rain forest to heath zone.  A rain forest is characterized by high rainfall, with annual totals ranging from 1750-2000 mm (68-78 in).  A heath zone is above the forest line, where porous soils and lower rainfall result in sparser vegetation. Leaving the rain forest heading to the heath zone ...


Posted in: Field Campaigns: Seasons and Biomes GLOBE Science Topics: Climate Climate Change

Blog originally posted on The GLOBE Scientists' Blog:  http://blog.globe.gov/sciblog/2012/09/23/xpedition-day-two-basecamp-to-forest-camp/ Packed and ready for the journey   Today, Sunday, 23 September, the team packs up the vehicles and heads off on their journey.  Their itinerary for the day includes a few hours’ drive from basecamp followed by a 3 hour hike to Forest Camp, located at 2,438 m above sea level. Taking a quick break on the hike   The bloggers were asked the following question as they set off on their...


Posted in: Field Campaigns: Seasons and Biomes GLOBE Science Topics: Climate Climate Change

Blog originally posted on the GLOBE Scientists' Blog:  http://blog.globe.gov/sciblog/2012/09/19/students-teachers-and-scientists-explore-mt-kilimanjaro-through-globe-protocols-and-blogs/ Beginning on 23 September, five GLOBE students, teachers and scientists and one GLOBE alum will join commence on a journey through the biomes of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa. Known as, “the Xpedidion,” the 2012 trek marks the fifth year of this exciting journey. This year will be bigger than ever as a documentary film crew will join us. In addition, we will be sharing images via ...


Posted in: Field Campaigns: Seasons and Biomes GLOBE Science Topics: Climate Climate Change Earth as a System

Blog originally posted on the GLOBE Scientists' Blog at http://blog.globe.gov/sciblog/2012/08/28/full-circle-superior-part-ii-studying-streams/ We have a guest blogger this week.  Mike Linke is posting his second blog in a series about his walk with his wife, Kate Crowley, around Lake Superior. This is the second in a series about the science of Full Circle Superior; a walk around the world’s largest freshwater lake.  You can read the first blog post here. My wife, Kate Crowley, and I determined that we would be the first couple to walk around this lake, trying...


Posted in: GLOBE Science Topics: Backyard Science Climate Earth as a System Investigation Areas: Hydrosphere Learning Activities: Hydrology Land Cover/Biology

This post is the second in a series called “Trees in Trouble”.  To see the first post in this series click here . Climate impacts so many things on this planet, most notably the types of flora and fauna that live in a specific region.  And for those creatures that have annual cycles tied to the local climate, such as the hibernation of bears, migration of birds, and life cycles of insects, a change in climate can shift their way of life and even have subsequent consequences on the environment they live in. Take the pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) for...


Posted in: GLOBE Science Topics: Climate Climate Change General Science

Many of the world’s glaciers, such as the Exit Glacier in Alaska, United States and Pasterze Glacier in Austria, have lost mass due to melting over the past few years. One such glacier, Exploradores in southern Chile, is also disappearing.  This glacier is a sight to behold – a 20 kilometer frozen mass that is filled with cliffs of luminescent blue and indigo ice. A view from inside the Exploradores Glacier, from Nature A view from inside the Exploradores Glacier, from Nature The Exploradores Glacier is one of many glaciers in the Patagonian Ice Fields located...


Posted in: GLOBE Science Topics: Climate Climate Change

Just over four years after my first visit to Australia (From drought to flood down under: Part I), the tides have turned and the country has gone from experiencing the driest decade on record to having the wettest two-year period on record in 2010-2011.  These recent rains have been both a blessing and a curse.  The good news is that they helped the region of southeastern Australia start to recover from the long drought (see Figure 1).  The bad news is that the rains came on heavy and strong.  In January 2011, devastating floods occurred across southeastern...


Posted in: Field Campaigns: SCRC GLOBE Science Topics: Climate General Science

All over the United States, spring flowers such as daffodils and crocuses began blooming nearly a month ago due to an unseasonably warm winter.  Some of my friends from many parts of the country have been mentioning how beautiful their gardens are and enjoying the warm weather.  Even my family and friends from the Mid-Atlantic region have been sending photos showing off their beautiful home gardens. Daffodils in bloom in late February Many think it’s really nice to see green grass, budding trees, and flowers in bloom in late February, as it’s a spirit lift...


Posted in: GLOBE Science Topics: Backyard Science Climate Earth System Science

In December 2007, I arrived in Australia for the first time ever.  It was a critically dry period for the region, as they were in the midst of a terrible drought.  Immediately upon my arrival, there were signals of a community in dire straits.  Instead of advertisements for products and services, the signs in the airport were encouraging water conservation.  My hotel bathroom had a message affixed to the mirror asking me to limit my shower time and water usage.  The dams were drying up and many communities faced running out of water in just mere months.  As...


Posted in: Field Campaigns: SCRC GLOBE Science Topics: Climate General Science