3.4 Enabling Worldwide Citizen Science Reporting of Dust Storms with NASA’s GLOBE Observer App

Monday, 13 January 2020: 2:45 PM
153B (Boston Convention and Exhibition Center)
Marile Colon Robles, SSAI, Hampton, VA; and H. Amos, K. Schepanski, and D. Tong

Handout (2.3 MB)

Dust storms can be dangerous, are difficult to forecast, and only limited in situ data are available. In this presentation, we will show how people worldwide unexpectedly started using an existing NASA smartphone app in a novel way to report dust events and what has developed since. The GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) Program is NASA’s largest and longest-operating citizen science program contributing Earth observations. In 2016, the program released the GLOBE Observer mobile app. The app’s most popular feature is a tool to report and photograph the types of clouds in the sky as cloud-observing satellites pass overhead (Terra/Aqua, CALIPSO, GOES, METOSAT, Himawari). Since 2017, more than 440,000 cloud observations have been sent in from all seven continents, including Antarctica. In 2019, it was unexpectedly discovered that the app was being used in a novel way to report, not just clouds, but dust storms. Dust reports coming through the app are automatically timestamped and geotagged, have the option to include photographs, and the data are made publicly available on globe.gov. In July 2019, an outreach campaign was launched to ask large swaths of the public to photograph and report dust events using NASA’s GLOBE Observer app. The use of these citizen science dust reports is being explored to improve satellite dust masks inferred from GOES and VIIRS and dust forecasts from the US National Air Quality Forecast Capability (NAQFC). We present preliminary results from the outreach campaign and discuss opportunities for the dust research community to engage.

Supplementary URL: https://observer.globe.gov/get-data/dust-data

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