A few weeks ago, I signed us up for the NASA S’COOL program. S’COOL stands for “Students’ Cloud Observations OnLine” and is part of the CERES (Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy Systems) project. S’COOL asks students to observe and report on visible cloud cover, which is then used to verify the imagery taken by the satellites. We received our materials recently and have been talking about clouds and the atmosphere. Today we did our first field observation.
First, we checked the overpass schedule to find out when one of the two satellites would be passing over our location. Then we took clipboards, report forms, a cloud chart and a camera outside to see what we could see.
We observed that there was a blanket of clouds covering almost all of the sky, so we decided that they were a type of stratus clouds. Because they were so high, we figured they were altostratus.
The photo does not show the clouds as distinctly as we saw them. However, it does show some blue, which we saw and decided that the opacity of the cloud cover was translucent.
A plane flew overhead just as we were observing, so we counted one contrail. It was a persistent one and was still visible about 10 minutes later.
Another plane flew over shortly thereafter, with no contrail (it was quite low).
After completing our observations, we took our data inside and entered it in the S’COOL database.
We are continuing to learn about different types of clouds, how they are formed, and how clouds affect (and predict) weather.