The Community Cloud Atlas: Sharing the knowledge of and appreciation for clouds

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Tuesday, 6 January 2015: 4:00 PM
125AB (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Angela K. Rowe, Univ. of Washington, Seattle, WA; and N. Guy

After years of growing our personal collections of cloud photos, we decided to start a Facebook page to build and educate a community of cloud enthusiasts. We describe the Community Cloud Atlas as “...the place to show off your pictures of the sky, identify clouds, and to discuss how specific cloud types form and what they can tell you about current and future weather.” Our main goal has been to encourage others to share their pictures so we can describe the scenes from a meteorological perspective and reach out to the general public to facilitate a deeper understanding of the sky. Nearly 16 months later, we have over 1400 “likes,” spanning 45 countries with ages ranging from 13 to over 65. We have a consistent stream of submissions, so many that we decided to start a corresponding blog to better organize the photos, provide more detailed explanations, and reach a bigger audience. The feedback has been in support of not only sharing cloud pictures, but also to “learn the science as well as admiring” the clouds. As one community member stated, “This is not ‘just' a place to share some lovely pictures.” We have tried to stand out in the social media world as an educational resource, and we are encouraged by the response we have received.

Through this process, we have learned that our atlas has been informally implemented into classrooms, ranging from a 6th grade science class to Meteorology courses at universities. NOVA's recent Cloud Lab also made use of our atlas as a supply of categorized pictures. Our ongoing goal is to not only continue to increase understanding and appreciation of the sky among the public, but to provide an increasingly useful tool for educators. We also would like to reach out to the meteorology community to see how this cloud database could be of use.