Observer News

GLOBE Observer Highlights 2019

Over the course of 2019, you, our citizen scientist contributors… 

Download a PDF version of the video.

… grew our community to include more participants, and collected lots of data,

Since the launch of the GLOBE Observer app in August 2016, over 180,000 citizen scientists total have created GLOBE Observer accounts, and over 37,000 have submitted data. In 2019, we received 200,000+ Clouds observations (which also includes GLOBE schools not using the app), 11000+ observations of Trees, 7500+ observations of Land Cover, and 13000+ observations from the Mosquito Habitat Mapper. Each of those observations may include images of the sky, land, trees, or a potential mosquito habitat, plus estimates of sky cover, color, and visibility, measurements of tree height, larvae counts, surface conditions, identification of clouds or mosquito species, and classification of land cover types. Wow!


… helped us launch the GLOBE Observer: Trees tool,

The GLOBE Observer: Trees tool was released worldwide on March 26, 2019. Within the first month after release, citizen scientists had already taken 2,260 tree height observations. Our Facebook Live event for the release reached over 88,000 people with 1400+ reactions, comments, and shares. By November, the 10,000th observations had been submitted!


… observed the South American eclipse,

During the eclipse that passed across South America on July 2, 2019 (path of totality through Chile and Argentina), GLOBE teachers and students and other observers collected 73 clouds observations and 1727 air temperature measurements in the area experiencing the eclipse. Check out the data that was collected, or watch videos of some of the students sharing their experiences (in Spanish).


… helped us GO on a Trail and made land cover observations,

From June 1st to September 2nd, we held our GO on a Trail data collection challenge in partnership with the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. Overall, we collected 2855 GLOBE: Land Cover observations during that period, including 881 observations from within the Trail swath itself. Globally, 330 distinct citizen scientists shared land cover data during the challenge. Other highlights included a Facebook Live event hosted from Hells Gate State Park in Lewiston, Idaho, and a Snapchat/Instagram/Facebook story with a reach of over 2.1 million. Visit the challenge page for the full list of our top observers, and a video highlighting some of the observations taken along the Lewis and Trail.


… collected clouds data during the Fall Cloud Challenge,

The GLOBE Fall Cloud Challenge held October 15 to November 15, 2019 brought in more than 45,000 observations from citizen scientists in more than 17,000 locations in 93 countries on every continent — including Antarctica. We also received reports of purple skies, haboobs and other types of dust storms, and smoke plumes from fires, not to mention over 57,000 clouds photographs. More than half of the observations (25,000+) were close enough to a satellite overpass time to have a satellite data match. See the news article about the results for a thank you video for all the participants and a full list of our top observers.


… measured tree height with the Trees Around the GLOBE Student Research Campaign,

Kicking off after the launch of the ICESat-2 satellite in September 2018, the Trees Around the GLOBE campaign started encouraging the measurement of tree height, which the satellite can do from space, using the traditional GLOBE tool of a clinometer. After the launch of the GO: Trees tool in March 2019, measurements really took off, with more than 11,000 tree heights now in the database. The second year of the campaign, starting in September 2019, will bring together student research, online tools and datasets for data analysis, comparisons to satellite data, and the development of student research projects, including other GLOBE measurement protocols that complement tree height measurements.


… investigated mosquitoes worldwide with the GLOBE Mission Mosquito campaign and the spring Mosquito Blitz, and locally with GO Oklahoma,

GLOBE Mission Mosquito has been involving teachers, students and other citizen scientists in collecting GLOBE Observer: Mosquito Habitat Mapper data since 2018, with more than 13,000 observations since the beginning of 2019, as well as sharing blogs, webinars and more to help participants learn more about the world’s most dangerous animal. The spring Mosquito Blitz ran April 7 through April 13, looking to provide a snapshot of where mosquitoes were active or not in the spring. During the week, 2,300 mosquito habitat observations from 334 sites were submitted. The GO Oklahoma! data challenge held June 1-October 31, 2019, had a more local focus initiated by scientists in the greater Oklahoma City-Norman, OK area, asking citizen scientists to monitor traps for mosquito larvae in their backyards weekly and reported data using the GO app.


…created teams to collect data,

The new GLOBE Teams tool launched in 2019 allows individual observers to create or join a team to collect data with people who share your enthusiasm for citizen science, and keep track of how many observations the team has made for each GLOBE Observer protocol. Over 300 teams have already been created! As just one example, the tool was used by scientists from Geoscience Australia and CSIRO to inspire Scouts in Australia to observe their land cover, resulting in over 4000 km of land cover mapped.


… used the app to report dust and smoke in your sky,

You have been using the GO: Clouds tool in a new way, to report on dust storms and smoke With just a few modifications to how observations are taken, you have been able to provide direct evidence of dust storms in your area, which scientists can use to check if their models have done a good job predicting these dust storms. And regular observations of smoke, such as near the fires burning in Australia, can help us see the impact and extent of the smoke as it travels in the atmosphere.


… joined us at public events to learn more about GLOBE Observer and NASA science,

The broad GLOBE Observer team conducted over 130 activities and events for the public, everything from outreach events like NASA Earth Day @ Union Station in Washington, D.C., Explore JPL in Pasadena, California, Citizen Science Day with Girl Scouts of Oregon and southern Washington, to presentations at the National Science Teachers Association and the American Camp Association, to webinars on topics from trees to mosquitoes to eclipses. And that’s only the start of the list! We loved getting to meet some of our observers, and hopefully interest new citizen scientists to start collecting data.


… collected data that was used for scientific publications and presented at conferences,

Two peer-reviewed (the highest scientific standard) papers were published using the data you helped us collect: “Eclipse Across America: Citizen Science Observations of the 21 August 2017 Total Solar Eclipse” by J.B. Dodson et al. in the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology and “Larval breeding characteristics and distribution of Aedes mosquito species in the economic capital of Benin: A public health concern” by R. Aikpon et al. in the International Journal of Entomology Research. GLOBE Observer data and results were also presented at more than ten different scientific and technical conferences including the American Geophysical Union, Entomology 2019, the GLOBE Annual Meeting, and more. A list of articles and presentations can be found on our publications and presentations page.


… supported student research,

We know of at least 198 U.S. student research projects based on GLOBE Observer and related offerings, involving over 2,000 U.S. youth and undergraduates. This included projects submitted to the GLOBE International Virtual Science Symposium, Girl Scouts who selected GLOBE Observer as part of their Think Like a Citizen Scientist Journey through SciStarter, Clouds Junior Research Teams collecting contrails data for scientists at NASA Langley Research Center, virtual high school interns through a collaboration with the the Texas Space Grant Consortium, and high school and undergraduate interns in person at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA Langley, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, among others.


… and so much more!


We can’t wait for 2020 and all the exciting things that are coming next!


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A graphic showing silhouettes of two people taking observations with their phones. They are standing between water with mosquito larvae in it, grass, trees, and clouds, which represent the tools within the GLOBE Observer app.

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