star Be part of April 1–30! star
The Sun drives many processes in Earth’s atmosphere. As the Sun rises and sets, it warms the Earth’s surface at different intensities. These changes in heat lead to changes in the clouds, especially the types of clouds. To study these changes, we need observations at different times over the course of hours, days, weeks, months, and years from around the globe. One instance of rapid change is the upcoming total solar eclipse on 8 April. This natural experiment is a great opportunity for those experiencing the eclipse to study how rapidly changing solar energy influences clouds. Researchers study which types of clouds are in our sky and how they are changing to better predict weather and climate. Lower, thicker cumulus clouds tend to have a cooling effect on the Earth because they block the Sun’s radiation from reaching the surface. Higher, thinner cirrus clouds warm the planet by trapping outgoing infrared radiation (heat) from the surface. It can be tricky to capture the extent of these interactions with satellites alone, which is why we need observations from your perspective on the ground as part of the GLOBE Eclipse Challenge: Clouds and Our Solar-Powered Earth.