Observe Your World is excited to introduce our first guest blogger! Meet Rachel Schwartz and her work with an online interactive that allows anyone, even YOU, to observe and share clouds from a different perspective.
Do you ever look out the window on an overcast day and wonder how far the cloud cover extends? I do all the time. I also know that we have a wealth of satellite data, so after I look out the window I often find myself pulling up the satellite image for my region. Some days that feeling that there is gray cloud just over you, is practically true! It is clear all around. Other times, I’m amazed to see how extensive the cloud field is and I know there is no quick drive to sunlight. I live in coastal San Diego. Yes, southern California, known for its sunny beaches, but actually coastal California and much of the West Coast is often very cloudy and foggy in the late spring and early summer. This is what I’m studying as a climate science PhD student at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. I study low stratiform clouds (stratus, stratocumulus, and fog) and California coastal climate as a NASA Earth and Space Science fellow.
For my scientific work studying clouds, satellite measurements are essential. Our understanding of the clouds is greatly enhanced when our ground view is complemented by the larger view provided by satellites. That’s why I’m always looking at the current satellite image, and that’s why I made coastclouds.com. At coastclouds.com we connect the view you have from the ground with the satellite view from above. All you have to do is take a photo of the clouds with GPS on and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your photo along with the satellite image will then be posted together at coastclouds.com. You can write a comment in the subject and body of the email about the cloud or meteorological conditions. Sometimes I identify the cloud types and write about the conditions that are favorable to certain cloud formation. Other times I just make simple or poetic comments. It’s fun to look on the website and compare the satellite and ground views.
Pictures above: “Sunny southern California? A classic “June Gloom” day, in La Jolla, CA, 12:22 PM local time June 9, 2014 as seen from the ground and from above and shown on coastclouds.com. Satellite image provided by NOAA”
In this way coastclouds.com has a lot in common with S’COOL. Looking at the satellite image can help you in your cloud identification. Some days you can see high clouds making shadows on lower stratocumulus cloud, for example. On an overcast or foggy day, from the surface you’ll miss out on seeing higher clouds. The opposite can be true if there are widespread high clouds. The satellite won’t be able to view low clouds and from the ground you can help inform the satellite picture. So far, I’m the biggest user of coastclouds.com- but I can’t wait to share the fun with others. Please post if you are inspired. We are also constantly making improvements, so please feel free to email me at email@example.com to share feedback.
Cheers to your cloud viewing and education, the sky is a great classroom!
Thank you Rachel for a great post and we here at Observe Your World are excited to start posting east coast clouds! Pretty cool, between Coast Clouds and the NASA CERES S’COOL Project you can observe clouds coast to coast!