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CERES S’COOL Project Update: The Evolution and Value of a Long-Running Education Project with a Foundation in NASA Earth Science Missions

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  • 1 Science Directorate, NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia
  • 2 Texas A&M, College Station, Texas
  • 3 Science Systems and Applications, Inc., Hampton, Virginia
  • 4 Science Directorate, NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia
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Abstract

In January 1997, the Students’ Cloud Observations Online (S’COOL; http://scool.larc.nasa.gov) project began with NASA scientists visiting rural Gloucester, Virginia, to observe clouds with middle school students. In the nearly 20 years since, this educational outreach component of NASA’s Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) mission has collected ∼144,500 observations from every continent and ocean basin around the world. Thousands of students, educators, and cloud-watching enthusiasts have participated in S’COOL.

More than half of S’COOL observation reports correspond to one or more CERES overpasses. A thorough analysis of collocated S’COOL and satellite data were conducted during summer 2015. Results showed that the S’COOL community reports high-quality observations providing useful insights on the strengths and shortcomings of passive cloud remote sensing from space. This reconfirms the utility of S’COOL observations to the scientific community and enables deeper insight into challenges associated with validation of space-based cloud property retrievals.

To maintain long-term participation, S’COOL has added components that involve participants directly with science data analysis, strengthening ties to CERES research and deepening engagement. Whenever possible, the S’COOL team sends corresponding subsets of CERES data for the participant to compare to their report. Observations can now be matched to images and cloud retrievals from multiple satellites and instruments. Recent connections to geostationary data make cloud observations at almost any time of day over nonpolar regions useful for validation. This attention to inviting participants into an authentic science experience is key to the long-term success of the project.

© 2017 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR E-MAIL: Lin H. Chambers, lin.h.chambers@nasa.gov

Abstract

In January 1997, the Students’ Cloud Observations Online (S’COOL; http://scool.larc.nasa.gov) project began with NASA scientists visiting rural Gloucester, Virginia, to observe clouds with middle school students. In the nearly 20 years since, this educational outreach component of NASA’s Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) mission has collected ∼144,500 observations from every continent and ocean basin around the world. Thousands of students, educators, and cloud-watching enthusiasts have participated in S’COOL.

More than half of S’COOL observation reports correspond to one or more CERES overpasses. A thorough analysis of collocated S’COOL and satellite data were conducted during summer 2015. Results showed that the S’COOL community reports high-quality observations providing useful insights on the strengths and shortcomings of passive cloud remote sensing from space. This reconfirms the utility of S’COOL observations to the scientific community and enables deeper insight into challenges associated with validation of space-based cloud property retrievals.

To maintain long-term participation, S’COOL has added components that involve participants directly with science data analysis, strengthening ties to CERES research and deepening engagement. Whenever possible, the S’COOL team sends corresponding subsets of CERES data for the participant to compare to their report. Observations can now be matched to images and cloud retrievals from multiple satellites and instruments. Recent connections to geostationary data make cloud observations at almost any time of day over nonpolar regions useful for validation. This attention to inviting participants into an authentic science experience is key to the long-term success of the project.

© 2017 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR E-MAIL: Lin H. Chambers, lin.h.chambers@nasa.gov
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