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NASA GLOBE Clouds Quarterly Update      

December/January/February 2022-23


The NASA GLOBE Clouds team is excited to announce the upcoming addition of NOAA-20 in 2023. This means that when you make your cloud observations, you can match your observations to NOAA-20. Learn more about NOAA-20 and how to increase the chance to get a satellite match. In addition, a new blog post is now available that steps you through how to compare your observations to satellite data.



The NASA GLOBE CLOUD GAZE dataset is the combination of two citizen science datasets. It merges cloud cover and cloud type information from people, and images with satellite data. Thanks to you, the project tagged over 735,000 photographs of clouds taken from over 125 different countries and regions around the world! After a year and a half, the project is closing down with some amazing stories. Read more about the project and how to download the data in the NASA GLOBE CLOUD GAZE year-end report.


Cloud Observation Tip: Cloud Iridescence

The photograph above is one of the most commented photographs on NASA GLOBE CLOUD GAZE taken by a GLOBE participant.

Have you seen what looks like a cloud rainbow? You may have noticed that it looks different from a regular rainbow in shape and color. This is what we call cloud iridescence. What you are seeing is diffraction which occurs when small water droplets or small ice crystals scatter the sun’s light. Cloud iridescence tends to occur in altocumulus, cirrocumulus, lenticular and cirrus clouds. The photo above is one of the most commented photographs on NASA GLOBE CLOUD GAZE and shows an excellent example of cloud iridescence. In this example, you see the iridescence on top of a cumulonimbus cloud. Notice that this part of the cloud is thin and looks a bit wispy. Learn more about cloud iridescence at NOAA’s Scijinks website.


Meet an Expert: Dr. Annette Bombosch

Image of satellite Dr. Annette Bombosch is a co-founder of The Polar Collective, which creates a link between the polar science community and citizen scientists visiting the poles. The Polar Collective supports a range of projects that have been selected to fit into the unique modes of tourism operations in the polar regions. One of the projects is GLOBE Clouds!

Question: Why do you do what you do?

Answer: I want to help people realize that everyone can make a difference, no matter how small. Every guest participating adds a data point on the map and helps scientists study the polar region. Without the collective participation this would not be possible.

Question: What are you hoping to achieve this new season?

Answer: I’d like to see continuous data points showing up on the maps and inspire people to look at clouds in a different way also when back at home. All the various cloud types are not only incredibly beautiful, they are also important for our climate.

Question: What have you noticed about clouds in the poles?

Answer: There is a lot of variety. Sometimes you see incredible lenticulars lit up by sunlight, other times it's all foggy, but change is always just around the corner.

Question: What is one thing you would like people to know about the Arctic and Antarctica?

Answer: Our polar regions are truly stunning places on our planet. It is an absolute privilege to visit them. They are humbling in a good way and remind us that it is really nature that is in control 😊.

Read Annette’s story on the NASA Citizen Science webpage.



Science Topic: Are Northern Hemisphere Clouds Different than Southern Hemisphere Clouds?

Clouds are constantly changing. They change from day to day and from hour to hour. But, have you ever thought if clouds are different depending if you are in the Northern Hemisphere or the Southern Hemisphere? A recent research paper by Randez et al. studied clouds in both hemispheres and found that, yes, they are different. Results show that clouds in the Southern Hemisphere reflect more of the sun’s light than the ones in the Northern Hemisphere. The reason is because the study found clouds with liquid water droplets in the Southern Hemisphere more often than in the Northern Hemisphere clouds.