Mesospheric airglow waves over the Northern Plains

September 2nd, 2019 |

VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images from NOAA-20 (0740 UTC) and Suomi NPP (0831 UTC) [click to enlarge]

VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images from NOAA-20 (0740 UTC), Suomi NPP (0831 UTC) and NOAA-20 (0921 UTC) [click to enlarge]

Kudos to Carl Jones (NWS Grand Forks) for spotting this vivid example of mesospheric airglow waves (reference) produced by severe thunderstorms that were responsible for a swath of hail across South Dakota from 0515-1010 UTC on 02 September 2019. In the toggles between VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images from NOAA-20 (at 0740 UTC), Suomi NPP (at 0831 UTC) and NOAA-20 (at 0921 UTC), note that the epicenter of the circular gravity wave patterns appeared to be located west of the convection on the earliest NOAA-20 image and east of the convection in the later NOAA-20 image — this is due to parallax (since the vertically-propagating waves were likely at an altitude near 90 km). This parallax shift was more pronounced in the NOAA-20 images since the high-altitude waves were near the limb of those two satellite swaths. The Moon was in the Waxing Crescent phase (at only 6% of Full), so features seen on the Day/Night Band images were primarily illuminated by airglow.

Closer views centered on the convection are shown below. Cloud-top infrared brightness temperatures in both South Dakota and Nebraska were -70ºC and colder in the NOAA-20 images (which are mislabeled as Suomi NPP), and -80ºC and colder in the Suomi NPP image. Bright white “lightning streak” signatures associated with the thunderstorms were more apparent in these closer views.

 VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images from NOAA-20 (0740 UTC), Suomi NPP (0831 UTC) and NOAA-20 (0921 UTC) [click to enlarge]

VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images from NOAA-20 (0740 UTC), Suomi NPP (0831 UTC) and NOAA-20 (0921 UTC) [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images (below) revealed the rapid development of an isolated hail-producing thunderstorm that generated the mesospheric airglow waves.

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images, with SPC storm reports plotted in cyan [click to play animation | MP4]

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