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Dwayne Brown
Headquarters, Washington
(Phone: 202/358-1726)

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

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

Oct. 5, 2004
RELEASE : 04-334
NASA & Globe Announce Contrail Count-A-Thon
NASA and GLOBE, an international student Earth science program, are sponsoring the Fall 2004 Contrail Count-a-Thon, October 14 and 15.

The Count-a-Thon gives students and adults an opportunity to collaborate with scientists in a hands-on, real-world science experiment, observing contrails, cirrus clouds formed from water vapor in aircraft exhaust. Participants submit their findings to scientists. The observations are tallied and reported for analysis of contrail activity patterns worldwide.

"Contrails are one change in the Earth's system that are, without a doubt, caused by human activity," said Lin Chambers, director of the GLOBE Contrail Education project at NASA’s Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va.

Contrails increase Earth's cloudiness, while impacting 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.

The Fall Count-a-Thon coincides with Earth Science Week, October 10 to 16. Earth Science Week, sponsored by the American Geological Institute, Alexandria, Va., is an international event to help the public gain a better understanding and appreciation for Earth sciences and to encourage stewardship of our planet. NASA and Globe hosted a similar Count-a-Thon last spring as part of Earth Day.

"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. The program is 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 with satellite images," she said.

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

The program brings students, teachers, and scientists together to support achievements in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It also helps gather important data for the global Earth science community. Since 1994, more than one million primary and secondary students, in more than 14,000 schools worldwide, have taken part in the program. As of September 2004, students reported more than 11.5 million scientific measurements using methods and standards developed by program scientists.

NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, provides funding. The directorate is dedicated to understanding the Earth as an integrated system. It also applies Earth system science to improve the prediction of climate, weather, and natural hazards using the unique vantage point of space.

For information about the Fall Count-a-Thon event on the Internet, visit:

For information about Contrail Education on the Internet, visit:

For information about NASA and agency programs on the Internet, visit:


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