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CERES Education Outreach

Mission Overview

CERES (Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System) is a radiometer based on the successful Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) design from the mid-1980s. Its role is to contribute to a long-term climate data record of the Earth’s energy budget by measuring the amount of reflected sunlight and emitted heat that determine Earth’s climate.


CERES has supported a strong educational and public outreach effort since 1997, which engages teachers, students, and the general public in the science of the CERES mission by making ground truth observations of clouds and sky condition at the time a CERES instrument passes over their location.

Classroom Resources

Citizen Science – Observe Clouds and Sky Condition

Understand & Explore Earth's Energy Budget

  • Explore several resources under the Radiation & Energy budget here link to external site.
  • Find an updated energy budget diagram and other resources here link to external site.

Analyze CERES Data & Images

Grade Level Lesson Plan Lesson Description
4-12 Circle the Earth —
Explore Surface Types on a Journey around Earth link to external site
Lesson uses CERES percent coverage surface data with a world map in locating landmasses and bodies of water at Earth's Equator.
5-7 How Does the Earth's Energy Budget Relate to Polar Ice? link to external site Lesson uses satellite data to understand how the net flux of the radiation budget relates to the amount of ice present in the Northern Hemisphere.
6-9 Is Portland, Oregon Experiencing Global Warming? link to external site Lesson uses long wave radiation data to determine whether the climate has changed in Portland, Oregon over a 20-year time span.
6-10 Correlation of Variables by Graphing link to external site Lesson guides students to an understanding of the appearance of graphed data, allowing them to determine how two parameters are correlated to one another.
6-12 Variables Affecting Earth's Albedo link to external site Lesson allows students to investigate one of the variables that affect the Earth’s albedo.
6, 9-12 Earth's Energy Budget link to external site Seasonal Cycles in Net Radiative Flux — Lesson uses CERES radiation data to understand seasonal variations in the pattern of net energy input to the Earth system.
7-8 Phytoplankton in the Gulf of Maine link to external site Lesson uses satellite data to explore and determine the correlation between sea surface temperature, sunlight, and the amount of chlorophyll (phytoplankton) in the Gulf of Maine at various times of year.
7-12 Think GREEN — Utilizing Renewable Solar Energy link to external site Lesson uses satellite data to help determine greatest renewable energy potentials in any given region and to develop skills in graphing and reading graphs.
8-9 Scientist Tracking Network (Student LAS Version) link to external site Lesson correlates surface radiation with mean surface temperature of several geographic regions. By observing how these parameters change with latitude, students will construct an understanding of the relationship of solar radiation to seasonal temperature variation.
8-12 Solar Cell Energy Availability From Around the Country link to external site Lesson determines areas of the country which are most likely to produce solar energy by analyzing differences in incoming solar radiation graphs.
9-12 Radiation Comparison Before and After 9-11 link to external site Lesson determines if changes can be detected in cloud cover, temperature or radiation measurements due to the halt in air traffic post 9-11.

General Resources


S’COOL Team:

  Image: NASA Logo NASA Official: Dr. Norman Loeb
Page Curator: Edward Kizer
Page Last Modified: 04/03/2020 09:33:29 EST
Site Last Modified: 04/03/2020 09:33:29 EST