(Inside Science TV) – The rain falling outside your window could look more like ice if you were looking at it higher up in the atmosphere. Researchers at NOAA's National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) and the University of Oklahoma's Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies (CIMMS) have developed an app called meteorological Phenomena Identification Near the Ground or mPING. Anyone can install and use the free mPING app to submit their weather observation report anonymously.
What does NOAA do with the reports that users send? The NOAA National Weather Service uses the reports to localize their weather forecasts and to develop new radar and forecasting technologies in order to have a better idea of what the weather looks like outside your window and at the altitude of your next airplane flight.
Kim Elmore, a research scientist at NSSL who works with the CIMMS, said that while the observations that the public submits helps research, he has been surprised by how much he has enjoyed engaging with the public.