A Few Trees Tool Rules that Any Good Observer Should Follow


A Few Trees Tool Rules that Any Good Observer Should Follow

 

With the NASA GLOBE Observer Trees Tool, users locate, measure, and photograph trees with their smartphones. Tree height can be measured by tilting the phone up to align the screen with the tree’s top branch and down to the base. Then users pace off the distance to the tree. The app does the rest to calculate the tree’s height. The device’s built-in magnetometer and gyroscope measure the angle to the bottom and top of the tree, based off the tilting of the phone by the observer. This angle is used to calculate the tree’s height.

 

There are several things that are extremely vital when taking your tree height observations.

 

1. HOLD YOUR PHONE AT EYE LEVEL!

 

This is the most important part of the tree height observation procedure. When you first set up your profile you input how tall you are. This information is used to estimate your eye level. You will need to always keep your phone at eye level when aligning the app to the base and the top of the tree. If you raise your arms up and down during the observation, the angles will be incorrect, leading to an incorrect tree height.

 

Keeping your phone at eye level is vital with the Trees Tool on the NASA GLOBE Observer. Image credit: NASA

 

 

2. YOU MUST BE ABLE TO VIEW THE BOTTOM AND TOP OF THE TREE AND YOU MUST BE ABLE TO WALK TO THE BASE OF THE TREE SAFELY AND LEGALLY

 

Always remember to safely take your NASA GLOBE Observer Tree Height observations. Image credit: Wikipedia

 

When selecting a tree for observation, please adhere to all laws. You will need to safely be able to see the bottom and the top of the tree, as well as be able to safely walk to the base of the tree. If you need to walk onto someone else’s property, please contact them for permission. Also, if you cannot safely or legally access the tree, please find a tree in another location. For example, if a tree is across a raging river on another person’s property, don’t measure that tree. You can’t access it safely and it’s illegal to trespass.

 

3. WHEN ON A FLAT SURFACE, MAKE SURE TO WALK NORMALLY TO THE BASE OF THE TREE

 

If you are taking a tree height observation on a flat surface, it very important to walk to the base of the tree using your normal stride. Based on the height you entered in the “Introduction” section of the Trees Tool, your estimated stride was calculated. The estimated stride will only work if you walk normally to the base of the tree, counting your steps.

 

A normal stride is important when taking a tree height observation on a flat surface: Image credit: NASA

 

 

…and this takes us to the next potential tip…

 

4. IF ON A SLOPE, YOU WILL NEED TO MEASURE THE ACTUAL DISTANCE TO THE TREE

 

If you find yourself having to walk uphill or downhill to the base of the tree, you will find it hard, if not impossible, to walk using your normal stride. This is an issue that will have an effect on your tree height measurement. The number of steps to the base of a tree on a slope will differ from the number of steps to the base of a tree on a flat surface.

 

Measuring tree height on a slope can be tricky, but doable. Image credit: Cambridge Water Department

 

So, instead of walking to the base of the tree counting your steps, you can use a tape measure to measure the actual distance from your point of observation to the base of the tree. This data can then be entered into the “Review Section” of the Trees Tool prior to submitting the data to the GLOBE database.

 

The Trees Tool on the NASA GLOBE Observer allows you to measure the tree height of small to large trees, worldwide. Image credit: NASA

 

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and the 25th anniversary of the GLOBE Program, GLOBE Observer is hosting a month-long citizen science challenge in April 2020. Volunteers are invited to measure the height of as many different trees as possible throughout the month using the Trees tool in the GLOBE Observer app. The individuals, schools, and registered teams that measure the most trees will be recognized as top observers in the challenge.

 

Brian Campbell (NASA Wallops/GST) is a NASA Senior Earth Science Outreach Specialist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia USA. Brian is also the Trees Around the GLOBE Student Research Campaign Lead and the Trees Science Lead for the NASA GLOBE Observer citizen science program. Brian works with local to international students in over fifty countries.


Protocol Types: Trees

View Count: 350

Comments

Please log-in to post comments

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.

View more GLOBE Observer news here.