S'COOL ROVER: Citizen Science Cloud Observations Promoting Individual Learning and NASA CERES Science Objectives

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Monday, 5 January 2015: 4:15 PM
226C (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Sarah A. Crecelius, NASA LaRC/SSAI, Hampton, Virginia; and L. Chambers and T. M. Rogerson

ROVER is the Citizen Science arm of the Cloud and Earth's Radiant Energy Systems (CERES) Students' Cloud Observations On-Line (S'COOL) Project. S'COOL began in 1997 with the launch of the first CERES instrument on the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite and has continued through the latest launch of the sixth CERES instrument on Suomi NPP. A team of scientists from NASA Langley Research Center and Virginia Educators created S'COOL to involve students in real world science by making and reporting ground truth observations of clouds to assist in the validation of NASA's CERES satellite instruments focused on observing and monitoring Earth. By comparing similar cloud properties from ground observations and satellite data participants can better understand the effect that clouds have on our weather and climate and learn more about Earth as a system. Due to the difference in perspective, participant observations can help NASA scientists validate satellite data and provide a more complete picture of clouds in the atmosphere and their role in the Earth's energy budget. The Citizen Science extension of S'COOL started in 2007 with ROVER. As a ROVER, participants can make and report cloud observation from any location. S'COOL participants, in formal education settings, are tied to their classroom observation location. A ROVER participant collects data on total sky conditions (visibility and color), cloud type, cloud cover, and visual opacity (on low, mid, and high levels), and surface conditions following S'COOL guidelines corresponding to satellite overpass times. Observations are reported on the ROVER website (http://science-edu.larc.nasa.gov/SCOOL/Rover/) to be matched with applicable satellite data. ROVER participants are sent “match” emails when their data corresponds with a satellite overpass showing their ground report next to the satellite data for comparison and analysis. All ground observations and satellite matches are archived in the ROVER database, accessible to all on the website.

With participants in 41 countries, providing over 6,600 observations in the past 7 years, ROVER provides a robust contribution to S'COOL's database of cloud observations and satellite matches, enhancing our global understanding of clouds and their effect on weather and climate. Scientists have been ROVERs: the Around the Americas sailing campaign studying the oceans and the MAGIC climate study from a cargo ship in the Pacific Ocean both reported S'COOL cloud observations while in the field. Roz Savage, an individual rowing across the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans took ROVER observations during parts of her journey. Even educators have combined formal education, through the S'COOL Project, with informal education, through ROVER, by having students participate in the classroom as well as at home during nighttime overpasses, on fieldtrips, on summer vacation, and much more. The value of Citizen Scientists providing cloud data is seen through the reach of observations. Scientists themselves, official ground sites, and airborne missions do not have the budget, personnel, or capabilities to monitor clouds at all times. ROVER effectively broadens the ability to capture cloud parameters globally, while fostering the development of an informed and environmentally aware Citizen Science community.

This presentation will provide an overview of ROVER outcomes and share best practices/lessons learned, educational material, and effective outreach strategies centered on understanding clouds and their effect on weather and climate for the citizen science community.