Land Cover

Resource Library      Quick Facts      Tips and Troubleshooting

Some types of land cover could increase a community’s risk of certain disasters, like flooding; while other types, like forests, can absorb carbon dioxide and mitigate the effects of climate change. These are just a couple of reasons why scientists study land cover. Satellites provide frequent, global observations of land cover, but can’t always see the details. You can help by taking observations on the ground using GLOBE Observer.

Lead a LEGO land cover activity or set up a phenology tracking station. These are just a couple of ways to integrate GLOBE Observer into your 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


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

Resource Library


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



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.


Plan out your route before the program, and check the day before in order to avoid surprises like downed trees. When choosing a location, keep time, safety considerations, ease of classification and diversity of land cover types in mind.

If your participants are using the app for the first time, you may want to find a location with only one or two types of land cover and few obstructions, such as a grassy field. As participants become more familiar with the app, introduce more complicated areas to classify. Participants will be observing 50 meters of land cover in each direction (a 100m x 100m square). That's approximately the length of a football field. If possible, have participants take their first observation from the middle of a football field. Otherwise, you may want to measure out a 100 meter x 100 meter square at your first observation site. For a more permanent display, install a post in the middle of your "pixel" so that visitors can take repeat observations anytime.

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 so that visitors remember to check out the app on their own time.

Presentation Tips

Determine the internet connectivity of your location. If you are providing devices, ensure that the app is downloaded and updated prior to the program. If participants will be using their own devices, ensure that they will have internet access or ask them to download the app prior to their arrival.

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.


This section will feature a scientist who uses GLOBE Observer Land Cover data.

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

This section will explain how clouds are related to land cover and mosquito habitat, with links to these protocol pages.