Why Observe?

Why is NASA sponsoring this work?

Clouds are a major component of the Earth’s system that reflect, absorb, and scatter sunlight and infrared emissions from Earth. This affects how energy passes through the atmosphere.  Different types of clouds have different effects, and the amount of cloud cover is also important. Clouds can change rapidly, so frequent observations are useful to track these changes.  Such observations are able to see change over time and help with interpretation of satellite cloud data.

The cloud observation tool in the GLOBE Observer app allows you to photograph clouds and record sky observations and compare them with NASA satellite images. Our goal is to provide a step-by-step process that helps you learn about clouds and their classification through simple observations and photography. 

You are an important part of the puzzle, providing a new perspective of the clouds that our NASA satellites do not have, looking up. We are excited for you to start collecting data through this updated cloud protocol featuring NASA satellite comparison!


Satellite Matching

The GLOBE Clouds Team at NASA Langley Research Center has been collecting citizen scientist observations of clouds for twenty years. These observations help researchers understand the data being collected by satellites observing our atmosphere, and, in particular clouds. Certain cloud types, like thin wispy cirrus, are sometimes hard to detect by certain satellites. Also, certain conditions like clouds in a snow-filled area make it hard for satellites to distinguish what is a cloud and what is snow. Our eyes are great detectors and can give researchers some very important information. 


GLOBE Observer cloud observations submitted are matched with satellites overhead of the observer taking measurements at about the same time. While observations are useful at any time, your reports can help verify satellite measurements if taken during a satellite overpass.  Select Check Satellite Flyovers from the home screen to determine these times and to set notifications reminding you 15 minutes before the satellite passes over and to customize your notifications, e.g., days of the week, time, and satellites.



GLOBE Observer Now