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Gretchen Cook-Anderson/Etta Jane Pagani
Headquarters, Washington
(Phone: 202/358-0836/1034)

Chris Rink/Julia Col
Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va.
(Phone: 757/864-6786/4052)

UCAR, Boulder, Colo.
(Phone: 303/497-8604)

April 20, 2004
RELEASE : 04-135
NASA And Globe Launch Earth Day Experiment
NASA, in collaboration with GLOBE, an international student program in Earth Science, is holding the Earth Day 2004 Contrail Count-a-Thon.

The event, a worldwide experiment on Earth Day, April 22, will provide the opportunity for anyone interested in developing a better understanding of the Earth a chance to join in a hands-on, real-world science experiment.

Participants will observe contrails, cirrus clouds formed from water vapor in aircraft exhaust, and report their findings to scientists. Observations will be tallied and reported state-by-state and country-by-country to illuminate contrail activity patterns.

"Contrails are one change in the Earth's system that are without a doubt caused by human activity, so it is appropriate on Earth Day we assess how people are impacting the state of our planet," said Lin Chambers, director of the Contrail Education project at NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va.

Contrails represent a human-caused increase in the Earth's cloudiness. They also impact the atmosphere and climate. Observations in the U.S. and around the globe may help scientists better understand the atmospheric conditions that enable the formation of contrails. "We thought spotting contrails would be a fun and educational activity that could include more schools and the general public since no instruments are required," said Peggy LeMone, chief scientist for the GLOBE program, based at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), Boulder, Colo.

"The distribution of sightings tells us about where jets are flying and where weather conditions favor contrails forming. We can also compare the contrail patterns to satellite images," LeMone added.

If no contrails are visible, participants may observe other clouds and report their findings. Participants in the Earth Day 2004 Contrail Count-a-Thon do not have to be members of GLOBE outreach projects. GLOBE members should follow their normal instructions for reporting observations on April 22.

This activity also marks the GLOBE program's 10th anniversary. GLOBE brings together students, teachers, and scientists to support improved achievement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and to gather important data for the global Earth science community. Since 1994, more than a million primary and secondary students, in more than 14,000 schools worldwide, have taken part in this international program. As of October 2003, students reported more than 10 million scientific measurements using protocols developed by scientists.

GLOBE is an international student observation campaign managed as a partnership between UCAR and Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colo., through a cooperative agreement with NASA, with sponsorship from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of State.

NASA works with GLOBE to help achieve its mission of inspiring the next generation of Earth explorers. Funding is provided by NASA's Earth Science Enterprise. The Enterprise is dedicated to understanding the Earth as an integrated system and applying Earth System Science to improve prediction of climate, weather, and natural hazards using the unique vantage point of space.

For information about the Earth Day event on the Internet, visit:

For more information about Contrail Education on the Internet, visit:

For more information about NASA's Earth Science Enterprise on the Internet, visit:

For information about NASA on the Internet, visit:


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