Re-suspended volcanic ash from the Novarupta volcano in Alaska

September 29th, 2014
GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

McIDAS images of GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel data (above; click image to play animation) showed the hazy signature of a plume of re-suspended volcanic ash originating from the region of the Novarupta volcano in Alaska, moving southeastward over the Shelikof Strait toward Kodiak Island on 29 September 2014. The 1912 eruption of Novarupta left a very deep deposit of volcanic ash, which often gets lofted by strong winds in the early Autumn months before snowfall covers the ash (another example occurred on 22 September 2013). Surface winds gusted as high as 30 knots at regional reporting stations, with numerical models estimating terrain-enhanced winds as high as 40-50 knots over the Novarupta ash field.

An AWIPS II image of POES AVHRR 0.86 µm visible channel data (below) showed the ash plume at 22:46 UTC; a pilot report at 22:45 UTC indicated that the top of the ash plume was between 4000 and 6000 feet above ground level.

POES AVHRR 0.86 µm visible channel image, with METAR surface reports and Pilot reports (PIREPs)

POES AVHRR 0.86 µm visible channel image, with METAR surface reports and Pilot reports (PIREPs)

A sequence of 3 Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images from the SSEC RealEarth web map server (below) indicated that the re-suspended ash plume had been increasing in areal extent during that period.

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color images from 27, 28, and 29 September

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color images from 27, 28, and 29 September

A sequence of 4-panel products from the NOAA/CIMSS Volcanic Cloud Monitoring site (below) shows False-color images, Ash/dust cloud height, Ash/dust particle effective radius, and Ash/dust loading (derived from either Terra/Aqua MODIS or Suomi NPP VIIRS data).

4-panel MODIS/VIIRS products: False color image; Ash/dust cloud height; Ash/dust particle effective radius; Ash/dust loading

4-panel MODIS/VIIRS products: False color image; Ash/dust cloud height; Ash/dust particle effective radius; Ash/dust loading

Hat tip to Mark Ruminski (NOAA/NESDIS) for alerting us to this event.

The King Fire in California

September 19th, 2014
Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color images

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color images

The King Fire began burning in central California (between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe) during the evening hours on 13 September 2014. A sequence of daily (12-19 September) Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images from the SSEC RealEarth web map server site (above) showed that as the prevailing southwesterly wind pattern switched to easterly on 19 September, there was a major change in the transport of smoke from the King Fire. The final image in the series zooms out to show how much of central California had become over-run with thick smoke.

A comparison of AWIPS-II images of Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band and 3.74 µm shortwave IR image at 09:18 UTC or 2:18 AM local time (below) revealed the bright glow of the large fire complex, along with the large fire “hot spot” signature (black to yellow to red color enhancement).

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band and 3.74 µm shortwave IR images

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band and 3.74 µm shortwave IR images

Suomi NPP VIIRS 3.74 µm shortwave IR images during the overnight hours (just after 2 AM local time) on 17 and 18 September (below) showed the dramatic northeastward advance of the fire hot spot signature during that 24-hour period. Smoke from the fire was reducing the surface visibility to 3-4 miles as far to the northeast as Lovelock (KLOL) and Fallon (KNFL) in Nevada.

Suomi NPP VIIRS 3.74 µm shortwave IR images

Suomi NPP VIIRS 3.74 µm shortwave IR images

Long-range transport of Canadian wildfire smoke

July 8th, 2014

GOES-15 (top) and GOES-13 (bottom) 0.63 µm visible channel images [click to play animation]

GOES-15 (top) and GOES-13 (bottom) 0.63 µm visible channel images [click to play animation]

On 08 July 2014 a comparison of GOES-15 (GOES-West) and GOES-13 (GOES-East) 0.63 µm visible channel images (above; click image to play animation; also available as an MP4 movie file) showed the southward and southeastward transport of dense smoke from wildfires that were burning in the Northwestern Territories of Canada. Over the Lower 48 states, the leading edge of the smoke made it as far south as Iowa and northern Illinois. The bulk of the dense smoke was aloft, but at the surface the visibility was reduced to 3-5 miles at some locations in North Dakota.

The above example serves as a good demonstration of the principle of “forward scattering”: the smoke was more evident on visible imagery from GOES-15  early in the day (as the sun was rising), and more evident on visible imagery from GOES-13 later in the day (as the sun was setting).

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images from the SSEC RealEarth web map server (below) showed the areal coverage of the hazy pall of smoke on 06 July, 07 July, and 08 July.

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color images

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color images

The IDEA-I forward airmass trajectory model applied to targets of high Aerosol Optical Depth (AOD) which were detected by the Terra MODIS instrument over Canada on 08 July are shown below. Such a tool can be used as an aid in air quality forecasting.

IDEA-I MODIS Aerosol Optical Depth and forward trajectories (click to play animation)

IDEA-I MODIS Aerosol Optical Depth and forward trajectories (click to play animation)

===== 09 July Update =====

The Terra MODIS AOD product (below; click to play animation) indicated that the leading edge of the Canadian wildfire smoke had advanced as far southward as northwestern Missouri. The bulk of the highest AOD values over the Dakotas was forecast to be transported slowly east-northeastward toward the Great Lakes region.

IDEA-I MODIS Aerosol Optical Depth and forward trajectories (click to play animation)

IDEA-I MODIS Aerosol Optical Depth and forward trajectories (click to play animation)

Cyclonic transport of fire smoke over the Gulf of Alaska

May 21st, 2014
GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

McIDAS images of GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel data (above; click image to play animation) showed the cyclonic transport of smoke across the Gulf of Alaska on 20 May 2014. The source of the smoke was the Funny River Fire that was burning on the Kenai Peninsula of south-central Alaska, near Soldotna. The fire quickly grew to 20,000 acres in about 24 hours.

The curved smoke plume was also quite evident on 3 separate Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band images (below). Smoke was reducing the surface visibility as low as 3 miles at Homer (station identifier PAHO).

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band images

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band images

Even though patchy clouds covered the Kenai Peninsula region around 13 UTC, the fire “hot spots” (black to yellow to red color enhancement) were still detectable on the VIIRS 3.74 µm shortwave IR image (below).

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band and 3.74 µm shortwave IR channel images

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band and 3.74 µm shortwave IR channel images