Thanks you to all the dedicated teachers participating in the Summer Teacher Institute offered by the Nisqually River Education Project. "Forests, Glaciers, and Freshwater" was the theme of the three-day institute this year. I was invited to speak this morning about observing clouds, the role of clouds in climate change, and why it's important to engage students in citizen-science cloud projects. Clouds are often neglected when we talk about watersheds, environmental stewardship, and climate change so I was glad for the opportunity to bring clouds into the conversation. Keeping an eye on our changing skies is becoming an increasingly important part of understanding our changing planet.
For those of you interested in some terrific cloud resources for your classrooms or living rooms, here are my go-to websites. (Click on the link, not the image).
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) just published its long-awaited cloud atlas this spring. This is the first ever digital edition of the atlas, which was first published in 1896 and with very few photographs. The WMO is responsible for the naming, categorizing, and description of clouds for use by professional meteorologists, aviation professionals, and amateur cloud watchers world wide.
The Cloud Appreciation Society: This is a less official, but extremely popular website for all things cloud--a photo gallery, cloud of the day, songs and poems about clouds, terrific newsletter, and members forum where you can find out the name of the strange cloud you just saw (altocumulus stratiformis perlucidus undulatus radiatus, for example). This London-based virtual organization boast more than 43,000 members worldwide. The founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society, Gavin Pretor-Pinney, has done more to bring much-deserved attention to the clouds than any other person in recent years. His website and his marvelous books, A Cloudspottter's Guide and the Cloud Collector's Handbook, are well researched, easy to use, and widely available.
NASA Globe Observer The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) offers a free app to help you make environmental observations that complement NASA satellite observations. There are two apps--one for mapping mosquitos habitat and for collecting data on clouds. When you download the cloud app and create a passworded account (of course), you can take photograph clouds and record sky observations and compare them images of the same clouds taken from the NASA satellite passing overhead. Cool! GLOBE is now the major source of human observations of clouds, which provide more information than automated systems.
Don't get overwhelmed! Just get in the habit of looking up at least once a day to enjoy the wonders of the sky. And remember to find your way to my new book, A Sideways Look at Clouds, which will be published by Mountaineers Books in late September. You can pre-order copies here.