Clouds

Resource Library      Quick Facts      Tips and Troubleshooting

Clouds don’t just make rain; they affect incoming energy, in the form of sunlight, as well as outgoing energy, as heat emitted from Earth’s surface back to space. Thus, they help regulate Earth’s temperature. NASA and other space agencies have a number of satellites orbiting Earth and collecting data about clouds and Earth’s energy. Combining this global view from above with ground observations of clouds and sky conditions from below helps scientists get a more complete picture of clouds in our atmosphere.

Lead a cloud observation hike and discuss the different types of clouds. Demonstrate how clouds are made and use a laser to show how satellites gather information on clouds. These are just a couple of ways that you can integrate GO into your organization’s programming.

Featured Activities

Cloud in a Bottle

(Carts - Presentations - Classes)

Demonstrate how a cloud forms and investigate it using a laser.

Cloud Opacity

(Carts - Classes)

Categorize materials by opacity and understand why cloud opacity matters.

Cloud Cover

(Classes)

Create a cloud collage and ask your friends to guess the percentage of cloud cover.

Resource Library

Activities

Books, Videos and Presentations

Printables and Promotional Materials

Find activities to integrate into carts, demonstrations, classes and more.

Add books, videos and presentations to your program.

Promote your program with these resources and give visitors something to bring home.

 

Quick Facts

What is a cloud? How do clouds form? What types of clouds are there? What do clouds do? Do all clouds make rain? How do clouds affect the weather? The climate? How do they affect my life? Why do scientists study clouds? How do scientists study clouds? Why do they need my observations? Do they actually use my observations?

Tips and Troubleshooting

 

Safety

Remind participants that they should never look directly at the sun. Participants will be looking at the sky and their devices; be sure to choose a location with even ground and away from traffic and other hazards. If you must use a parking lot, try to block off an area for your program.

Location

In addition to choosing a safe location, you should find an area with few obstructions. One way to check for obstructions is to hold your hand out level with the top of your head. If all obstructions fall below your hand, you've picked a perfect site.

In some instances, you might need to present indoors. You can still demonstrate the app inside-- just don't send the observations to GLOBE. Bring handouts like the GLOBE Observer postcard or the Cloud Identification Chart so that visitors remember to check out the app on their own time.

Presentation Tips

Sharing the app on a smartphone is fine for individual interactions, but you may wish to use a tablet with groups so that everyone can see what's on the screen. Ask for volunteers to complete each step so that everyone gets a chance to contribute to the observation.

Flyover Matching

Observations taken within 15 minutes of a satellite flyover are particularly helpful for studying clouds. You can find upcoming flyovers for the next two weeks by pressing the satellite icon within the Clouds module. Even if you need to select a time more than two weeks in advance of the program, you can still check to see if your program will overlap with a flyover. Most satellites are very small, and won’t be visible from the ground, but you can also check this website for ISS viewing opportunities. Keep in mind that the best times to see the ISS are typically not the best times for cloud viewing.

If you take an observation 15 minutes before or after flyover, matching satellite images will be emailed to you. Matches from geostationary satellites take about 2 days, but matches from other satellites could take up to 2 weeks. For recurring events, you can simply share the images during the next session, but for one-time programs you might consider printing images from a previous match or posting images on a social media account where participants can see them afterwards (plus, you might just gain new followers).


Clouds carry water over great distances. This water, in the form of precipitation, affects both land cover and mosquito habitat.

< Land Cover       Mosquitoes >

 

Featured Scientist

Marilé Colón Robles from NASA Langley Research Center uses GLOBE Observer data in her work on clouds.

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Satellite Feature

This section will feature a satellite image, along with an explanation of how citizen science data helps us study clouds.

Marilé Colón Robles from NASA Langley Research Center uses GLOBE Observer data in her work on clouds.

Read More