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Become a CloudCatcher: Climate science needs your family’s help!

The UK in summer captured by Sentinel-3. Credit: Copernicus data - processed by RAL Space

Become a CloudCatcher: Climate science needs your family’s help!

Madeleine Russell, of RAL Space recently contacted us to invite our members to take part in their online citizen science project.

CloudCatcher is a new project harnessing the power of citizen science to help climate change research. Scientists at RAL Space, the UK’s national space laboratory, need your help to check their cloud identification tools.

All you need to do is download the Zooniverse app or check it out via the CloudCatcher web link to start catching clouds.

Clouds are beautiful. But if you are interested in making measurements of the Earth’s surface from space, you need a clear view of it. Clouds can interfere with our surface temperature data and so they need to be identified in satellite images so we know which pixels to discard. To do this, we have an automated ‘cloud mask’ which identifies which of the image pixels are likely to contain cloud. Often the cloud mask gets it right, but no cloud mask is perfect and there are times when cloudy pixels are missed, or indeed clear sky gets falsely flagged as cloud. It is important to understand how well we are doing at identifying this cloud, which is actually tricky to do.

We need you to help us find out just how accurate our cloud mask is. Everyone in the family can help!

Dr Caroline Cox, Research Scientist at RAL Space and part of the CloudCatcher team said: “By taking part in CloudCatcher, people will be genuinely helping us out with our work. We need lots of eyes on these satellite images to help give us good results that we can share with other scientists. Ultimately, science is a team game, and we want people to be part of our team. And we hope that everyone enjoys looking at these fantastic images taken from space as much as we do!”

How to take part

1. Have a go at CloudCatcher!
On a laptop or PC (find the project using this direct link)
• On a mobile or tablet: iOS devices or Android devices. Download the Zooniverse app and find CloudCatcher under ‘Beta projects’

2. Send us your feedback! The project is still in development and we’d love your help to improve it and make sure it’s a successful project that is enjoyable and engages a wide variety of people. Here’s how you can help us:

Fill in our survey (it takes less than 5 minutes)
• Join in CloudCatcher Talk or connect with us on Twitter or Instagram to let us know what you think

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