Why Observe?


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!


Mosquito Habitats

The mosquito is the most dangerous animal in the world. Mosquito-borne diseases kill millions of people every year, and make even more than that sick.

Seasonal patterns of temperature and precipitation may be altered by climate change where you live. These changes could affect the movement of insects such as mosquitoes. Other factors such as land use can contribute to the spread of mosquitoes and the diseases they carry.

The good news is that we can make a difference in working together to eradicate these killers from our neighborhoods through awareness and action. Through the app, GLOBE Observers are able to augment broad scale satellite-based research with highly targeted local ground-based observations.

"Satellites don't see mosquitoes per se,” says Assaf Anyamba of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, “However, they provide us observation platforms from which to monitor the environmental variables that indicate where mosquito populations can flourish. This helps us identify areas where disease vectors can emerge.”

“By generating in situ data with the help of citizen scientists, we envision the app serving supplementary data to scientists as they model mosquito population outbreaks,” says Rusty Low of the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, “And equally important is the ability of the app to act as an enabling tool for citizen scientists who want to reduce disease risk in their communities.”

You are an important part of the team working to understand and mitigate mosquito-borne disease risk, providing precision data that NASA satellites are unable to collect. We are excited you have chosen to contribute your data, and are taking action to eliminate mosquito habitat in your neighborhood.


Land Cover

Land cover describes what you see on the surface of the land such as trees, grass, pavement, or bare rocks or soil. Even though land cover is familiar to everyone on the planet, the most detailed maps of global land cover are still on the order of hundreds of meters [about 330 feet] per pixel. That means that a park in a city may be too small to show up on the global map.

Scientists need detailed and regularly updated land cover maps because land cover is critical to many different processes on Earth and contributes to a community’s vulnerability to disasters like fire, floods or landslides.

Land cover changes with climate change or land use decisions. Changes in land cover matter because land cover can alter temperatures and rainfall patterns. Land cover influences the way water flows or is absorbed, potentially leading to floods or landslides. Some types of land cover absorb carbon from the atmosphere, and when subject to changes, such as a forest burned in a wildfire, result in more carbon entering the atmosphere. Improved land cover maps will provide a better baseline to study all of these factors at both global and local scales, particularly as scientists integrate improved land cover maps into global models.

Land Cover: Adopt a Pixel enables you to photograph the landscape, identify the kinds of land cover you see (trees, grass, etc.), and then match your observations to satellite data. You can also share your knowledge of the land and how it has changed.

Scientists will use your observations of land cover to improve global land cover maps. Global maps at high resolution are important for consistency. Some parts of the world do have high spatial resolution maps of land cover, but these maps do not exist for every place, and the maps are not always comparable. GLOBE Observer Land Cover can fill in local gaps and contribute to consistent global maps.

Want to do more than just observe clouds? Here are a few questions to start your scientific exploration:

  1. Do cloud patterns change during the year? How?
  2. Are contrails often seen where you observe? Why?
  3. Are the types of clouds and contrails you observe related?
  4. How do the clouds you see relate to nearby mountains, lakes, large rivers, bays, or the ocean? 
  5. How do your cloud observations compare with satellite images of clouds? Explore satellite images on NASA's Worldview and the NOAA Geostationary Satellite Server


Share your thoughts with GLOBE Observer through Facebook or Twitter.