NASA Project Will Look for Clouds Around the Americas
S’COOL, Students’ Cloud Observations On-Line, was invited by the Around the Americas project to circumnavigate North and
Ocean Watch departed
The crew will collect “datasets of opportunity” throughout the expedition including daily cloud observations from the boat for S’COOL during NASA satellite overpass times. This project would represent the first time that cloud observations are collected consistently from the open ocean for the S’COOL project — a collaboration of NASA scientists who use students’ observations in cutting-edge climate research.
“We are very excited to be getting cloud observation reports from the Ocean Watch crew in places where observations normally aren’t made,” said
Chambers added that there are plans to invite Around the Americas followers to make their own cloud observations from their backyards and schools via the S’COOL website.
The collected S’COOL data are used to ground-truth or verify NASA’S CERES instruments aboard the Terra and Aqua satellites. CERES stands for the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System experiment and has been using students’ S’COOL observations since 1997. The program began as a small collaboration between the project’s scientists — managed at NASA Langley — and has expanded to include schools in 54 countries around the globe and nearly 75,000 individual student-reported cloud observations.
The students’ work helps researchers double-check the satellite instruments’ measurements, which can in certain conditions record more or less cloud cover than actually exists. The goal of the CERES project is to measure the incoming and outgoing radiation in the Earth’s atmosphere in an attempt to learn more about the role clouds play in the planet’s dynamic climate.
Clouds remain one of the least understood climate variables. Student observations have mostly agreed with the instruments, but also have consistently shown that the satellite measurements slightly under-detect high-altitude clouds, a shortcoming that would be difficult to reference without a database of student observations.
The Around the Americas project is a partnership between three organizations: Pacific Science Center (PSC), Sailors for the Sea, a
For the S’COOL Rover Web site and more information, go to: