Meet Megan McKeown, this NASA Intern Analyzed Your SCOOL Data!

Megan_Mckeown_Headshot

I can’t remember when my fascination with meteorology began. Perhaps it was in middle school when we began making cloud observations in science class. It excited me that people were able to conduct science outside of the classroom and I was overjoyed when my turn finally came to make my own weather observation. I was shocked, however, at how surprisingly challenging it was to identify and distinguish the different cloud types… It had never occurred to me before that clouds were anything more than resemblances to some sort of shape, like an elephant or a train. It was then that I learned just how dynamic clouds could be, with their many different names and characteristics. Little did I know that my interest in meteorology would lead me to NASA Langley, interning with the S’COOL Project, analyzing other students’ cloud observations.

Currently, I am an undergraduate student studying Meteorology at Texas A&M University. I have chosen to focus my studies on atmospheric chemistry and have conducted a research project analyzing how aerosol particles resulting from air pollution influence the formation of clouds. These aerosol-polluted clouds alter the Earth’s radiation budget and affect our environment. From my research experience, I found it fitting that I got to spend my summer working with CERES data and helping NASA scientists understand the relationship between clouds, Earth’s radiation budget, and the climate.

The S’COOL Project aims to use you, the general population, as a unique tool to verify cloud properties derived from the CERES instrument. My job this summer has been to analyze just how well your cloud observations help the CERES project. This has included making comparisons between different ground and satellite observed cloud properties, conducting statistical analyses between the two perspectives, and using other satellites to verify your ground observations. I even got to help make a S’COOL observation myself at a local Virginian school. Along the way, I even discovered a new interest in studying satellite meteorology. I’ve truly enjoyed becoming part of the worldwide S’COOL community and analyzing all of your observations.

If you are interested in viewing my results from this summer and learning more about how you, as a cloud observer, have helped the NASA CERES project, please visit the S’COOL page at http://scool.larc.nasa.gov. Thank you S’COOL observers for your important assistance in the CERES Project and for helping us further our understanding of Earth’s climate. Keep up the good observing!

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