GLOBE Observer

Almost everyone is or has been a cloud watching hobbyist; whimsical and omnipresent, clouds capture the attention and imagination of people everywhere. GLOBE Observer is an international citizen science initiative established in 1995 by the United States government to engage cloud enthusiasts to monitor clouds in the US and now, enthusiasts worldwide. Enthusiasts download the GLOBE Observer app, follow the prompts for how to take a picture, and submit pictures of clouds in their area that will be added to a global database of cloud observations. Researchers from GLOBE, in partnership with NASA, compare submissions to satellite data to verify submissions. The data collected through the app by hobbyists help researchers track and ameliorate predictions about the climate in the present and in the future. The app is marketed also as an educational tool, particularly for those who teach children. GLOBE has other educational initiatives offered to young students in middle and high school, and apps that are highly complementary to those programs. The app is intuitive and, from reviews, appears to be highly engaging for children and parents in particular. There are questions of how helpful pictures are and if there are concentrations of data in highly developed countries in the global North where there is already a dearth of public engagement in citizen science initiatives and research on climate. However, the educational and accessible nature of the app makes it appealing for even the most casual hobbyist to engage in environmental monitoring.


Citizen Science, Data, Ecological Monitoring, Internet of Things, Monitoring, Visual Technologies