Every time you take a cloud observation, the NASA GLOBE Clouds team matches your observation to satellite data. 

Why do we do this? Your view of clouds is from a different perspective than what is observed from a satellite. Satellites look down at clouds and see the top. When you make your observation, you are looking up towards the sky and seeing the bottom of the clouds. When there is a match, scientists then have a top-down view of clouds from a satellite and a bottom-up view from your spot. When you mix these two views together, you have a more complete picture of the sky. Researchers have used these two views to study different aspects of the clouds and sky. As more data become available, more ideas for how to use it are generated.

Dr. Brant Dodson is an atmospheric scientist at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Brant has been working to compare satellite data to your GLOBE cloud observations. In the Clouds Research and Citizen Science video, he explains how your observations have impacted his research. 


 Research projects your observations can support


Solar Terminator Problem

Identifying cloud types that lay in the terminator (or the line between the daylit and dark side of the planet) is sometimes an issue when analyzing satellite data. You can take cloud observations during dusk and dawn. We ask that when you submit your photographs, you add the comment “terminator” on the caption space to at least one of the photos using the GLOBE Observer app (follow the steps below). The comment will alert the team that we have received an observation during this specific time. This short video walks you through how to take a cloud observation using the GLOBE Observer app.


Air Quality

Cloud observations are also related to air quality. For sky color, lighter shades of blue are related to more aerosols in the air. Likewise, lower visibility, or more haze, is related to more aerosols in the air. Finally, observers can indicate if the sky is obscured by haze, dust, smoke or volcanic ash. These are indicative of air quality issues. If you notice any of these issues, you can make a cloud observation. You can also use existing observations to investigate events. The Student Project Support page has project ideas and a file of smoke observations to help you get started with your own investigation. There is also a GLOBE Air Quality playlist with videos describing how to integrate data to tell an air quality story. Finally, NASA scientist Dr. Margaret Pippin has written two blogs related to air quality investigations, 1) Investigating Air Quality Using PurpleAir and 2) Investigating GLOBE Air Quality using AerosolWatch.


Dust Observations

Do you live in an area that has dust storms? We would like for you to photograph the dust event and submit your photos using the GLOBE Observer app. Your observations will be used by scientists to verify satellite observations and see if computer models have successfully predicted these dust storms. This will help alert communities to better prepare for the harmful impacts of these storms. Follow these steps to submit your dust observations. 


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