Water Challenge 2023

Where is the Water? A GLOBE Observer Data Challenge


01 May to 31 May 2023

Short link to this page: https://observer.globe.gov/water-challenge-2023

The Where is the Water? A GLOBE Observer Data Challenge has concluded. Download a customizable certificate of participation (PDF) to print or share on social media.

This certificate is presented to Your Name Here for participating in Where is the Water? a GLOBE Observer Data Challenge.



Water is dynamic. Shorelines shift and rivers twist. Plants cover water edges, changing the shape and character of water bodies. Water accumulates during rain and evaporates during drought. From vast oceans to a few drops in a bucket, some bodies of water persist for many years, while others last just long enough for mosquito larvae to grow into adults. For scientists studying Earth’s water from space, the boundary between land and water is not always easy to map, and small areas of water may not be visible at all.

Help us provide context and a point of reference for scientists by documenting water in the landscape and mapping mosquito habitats found there.


From left: A hand holding a phone taking a land cover photo, a group of people photographing a pond, a woman kneeling down to photograph a potential mosquito habitat in a pond with lily pads.

How to participate:

  1. Download the GLOBE Observer app and register an account.
  2. Look for water in the environment around you, especially the edges between land and water, and take a GLOBE Land Cover observation. Put the tag "#water" in the field notes. Remember, always follow guidelines from your local officials, and only participate in GLOBE activities or use the GLOBE Observer app if it is safe to do so.
  3. Use the Mosquito Habitat Mapper tool to document the water as a potential mosquito habitat.

From left: The landing screen for the Land Cover tool, the field notes section of the tool with #water noted, and the landing screen of the Mosquito Habitat Mapper tool

Events and videos:

Live webinars:

  • Students walking on a rocky beach and the text GLOBE Observer Connect May 202304 May 2023: Our topic for the May GLOBE Observer Connect, a new series of short conversations about GLOBE data, science, and the latest updates, will focus on water and land cover during the first week of the challenge. Many factors can influence water bodies, including land cover change, seasons, and climate change. Land cover scientist Peder Nelson will lead a conversation based on this month’s science blog about why we want to know where water is and how that relates to land cover and satellite science. Watch a recording of the May GO Connect session new window.
  • The Delta-X mission logo over a background of a river delta from space09 May 2023: Tune in for a webinar on "The State of Trees May 2023: Looking at Land Cover and River Deltas with the NASA Delta-X Mission, including a Discussion of Global Surface Water, Mangrove Science, and Trees with Wet Feet" to hear Dr. Marc Simard, Senior Research Scientist and Principal Investigator for the NASA Delta-X Mission, at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California USA. During this webinar, Dr. Simard will discuss how river deltas and their wetlands are drowning as a result of sea level rise and reduced sediment inputs and how the Delta-X mission determines which parts will survive and continue to grow, and which parts will be lost. The webinar is part of the Trees Around the GLOBE Student Research Campaign. Watch a recording of the May Trees Around the GLOBE webinar new window.

Past webinars:

  • The April Trees Around the GLOBE Webinar new window was also relevant to water, specifically on the topic of the NASA Surface Water and Open Topography (SWOT) Mission and how it aligns to water edges and land cover. Dr. Ben Hamlington, Research Scientist in the Sea Level and Ice Group, in the Earth Sciences Section at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California USA discussed the NASA SWOT Mission, NASA's first global survey satellite of Earth's surface water, providing data for clean air and water, extreme events, and long-term environmental changes. Following Dr. Hamlington's presentation, Peder Nelson discussed how this mission aligns to the Where is the Water? Data Challenge, focusing on water edges, land cover, and mosquito habitats.

In addition, we'll be releasing weekly social media videos on topics related to the challenge:

  • Bonus! 28 April 2023 - Pre-Challenge How to Participate Video new window
  • 03 May 2023 - Where is the Water? Challenge Teaser Video new window
  • 10 May 2023 - Water and Land Cover new window - Peder Nelson, science lead for GLOBE Observer: Land Cover 
  • 17 May 2023 - Agents of Change: GLOBE in Near East and North Africa new window - Students in Oman attempt to find a solution to an issue affecting local farmers: low water levels and soil salinity.
  • 24 May 2023 - Looking for Mosquito Habitats - Dr. Rusty Low, science lead for GLOBE Observer: Mosquito Habitat Mapper
  • 31 May 2023 - Agents of Change: GLOBE in Latin America - Luis, age 9, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, develops a passion for exploring the habitats and life cycles of mosquitoes, and takes measures to eradicate the spread of mosquito-borne diseases in his community.


Water Challenge Dashboard

Water Challenge - Resources Header

Selected Activities and Resources Related to Land Cover and Mosquito Habitats:

Visit the Land Cover Resource Library and the Mosquito Habitats Resource Library for more.


Asset Publisher

GLOBE Observer: Land Cover - Getting Started

[2:44] Learn how to take land cover observations using the GLOBE Observer app.

Video with narration

Video without narration


Land Cover Introductory Tutorial

The short animation from the introduction to the Land Cover tool in the GLOBE Observer app, explaining the basics of how to make observations.

Land Cover Type Quick Reference Guide

Review different land cover types using this handy reference sheet, including example photos and tips.

Why Observe: Land Cover

[7:41] This video explains what land cover is, why scientists use land cover observations from satellites, as well as why they need help from citizen scientists to collect data.


GLOBE Observer: Mosquito Habitat Mapper - Getting Started (Basic)

[2:15] Learn how to make a basic mosquito habitat observation using the GLOBE Observer app.

Video with narration

Video without narration


GLOBE Observer: Mosquito Habitat Mapper - Getting Started (Sample Collection)

[3:41] Learn how to take samples of mosquito larvae during a Mosquito Habitat Mapper Observation

Video with narration

Video without narration


Step-by-Step Mosquito Habitat Mapper Tutorial

Step-by-step illustrated guide to collecting specimens and observations with the GLOBE Observer Mosquito Habitat Mapper.