Snow cover in the Brooks Range and North Slope of Alaska

September 2nd, 2018 |

Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images on 01 and 02 September [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images on 01 and 02 September [click to enlarge]

A low moved eastward across the Beaufort Sea on 01 September 2018, bringing a cold front southward across the North Slope and Brooks Range in far northern Alaska (surface analyses). A sequence of Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images (above) showed the clearing of high/cold clouds in the wake of the frontal passage.

The upslope flow of cold air helped to generate accumulating snowfall across that region — prompting a Winter Storm Warning to be issued for the eastern Brooks Range, where 4-8 inches was expected at higher elevations — and some of the resulting snow cover was seen on a Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) image at 1415 UTC or 6:15 am local time on 02 September (below). A comparison with the corresponding VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) image and Topography is also shown. The darker shades of brown on the topography image correspond to elevations of 6000-8000 feet in the Brooks Range.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm), Infrared Window (11.45 µm) and Topography images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm), Infrared Window (11.45 µm) and Topography images [click to enlarge]

Later in the day on 02 September, additional clearing of patchy low clouds revealed more of the snow cover, as seen in a toggle between VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Topography images (below). Supercooled water cloud droplets are efficient reflectors of incoming solar radiation, making patches of low cloud appear darker shades of gray on the Shortwave Infrared image (helping to identify low clouds over snow cover).

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Topography images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Topography images [click to enlarge]

At 2124 UTC (or 1:24 pm local time), a 30-meter resolution Landsat-8 False Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) image viewed using RealEarth (below) provided a more detailed view of a portion of the snow cover. Snow and ice appear as shades of cyan in this type of RGB image — which is created by combining Landsat bands 6 (1.61 µm), 5 (0.865 µm), and 4 (0.655 µm) as Red, Green, and Blue — and numerous small ice floes can also be seen off the coast.

Landsat-8 False Color RGB image [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 False Color RGB image [click to enlarge]

On a side note, farther to the west an interesting pattern of contrails was seen in VIIRS Visible and Infrared Window images at 2046 UTC (below). On the Visible image, note that the darker contrail shadows cast onto the surface are displaced about 15 miles to the north (due to the low sun angle); the contrail features exhibited Infrared brightness temperatures of -10 to -15ºC. These contrail patterns were generated by military aircraft performing training exercises: similar features have been noted over California and North Dakota.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]

A curved portion of one of these contrails was seen on web camera images looking south from Atqasuk (below).

 

GOES-16 water vapor imagery over far northern Canada

August 1st, 2018 |

GOES-16 Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images [click to play animation | MP4]

Animations of GOES-16 (GOES-East) Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images (above) showed features moving eastward across Nunavut in northern Canada on 01 August 2018. These images covered the far northern portion of the GOES-16 Full Disk view in AWIPS, and depicted frontal wave disturbances within the polar jet stream over that region.

Due to the large satellite viewing angle or “zenith angle”, the 2 km water vapor image pixel dimension (at satellite sub-point) increased to around 6.4 km or 4 miles (below).

Magnified view of GOES-16 Mid-level (6.9 µm) Water Vapor image, showing the pixel dimension over Nunavut, Canada [click to enlarge]

Magnified view of a GOES-16 Mid-level (6.9 µm) Water Vapor image, showing the pixel dimension over Nunavut, Canada [click to enlarge]

Another effect of the large satellite view angle was a shift of the Water Vapor weighting functions to higher altitudes — plots of the 7.3 µm, 6.9 µm and 6.2 µm weighting functions calculated using 12 UTC rawinsonde data from Baker Lake, Nunavut are shown below. These plots depict the layers of the atmosphere from which emitted radiation was detected by each of the 3 Water Vapor spectral bands on the ABI instrument.

GOES-16 Water Vapor weighting function plots calculated using 12 UTC rawinsonde data from Baker Lake, Nunavut [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Water Vapor weighting function plots calculated using 12 UTC rawinsonde data from Baker Lake, Nunavut [click to enlarge]

Iceberg near Innaarsuit, Greenland

July 20th, 2018 |

Landsat-8 False Color RGB image swaths, zoomed in to show the iceberg near Innaarsuit, Greenland [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 False Color RGB image swaths, zoomed in to show the iceberg near Innaarsuit, Greenland [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 False Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images viewed using RealEarth (above) is zoomed in (final image) to show a large iceberg (snow and ice appear as cyan) near the island community of Innaarsuit, Greenland (shades of light green) on 20 July 2018. Media stories about this iceberg can be found here and here.

Cape Newenham, Alaska bow shock waves

June 10th, 2018 |

GOES-15 Visible (0.63 µm) images, with hourly plots of wind barbs [click to play animation]

GOES-15 Visible (0.63 µm) images, with hourly plots of wind barbs [click to play animation]

GOES-15 (GOES-West) Visible (0.63 µm) images (above) showed patches of fog and low stratus moving southwestward off Southwest Alaska and across the adjacent offshore waters of the Bering Sea on 10 June 2018.

A closer look using 250-meter resolution Terra/Aqua MODIS and 375-meter resolution Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images from RealEarth (below) revealed a packet of “bow shock waves” created as the shallow fog/stratus interacted with the relatively rugged terrain of the narrow Cape Newenham land feature (Google Maps). Other examples of similar bow shock wave cloud features have been documented here, here and here.

Terra MODIS, Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS, Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

A 30-meter resolution Landsat-8 false-color RGB image (below) provided a more detailed view of the bow shock wave structure. Snow cover (cyan) could be seen on some of the higher-elevation land features.

Landsat-8 false-color RGB image [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 false-color RGB image [click to enlarge]

A time series plot of Cape Newenham surface observations (below) showed the fluctuations in visibility as northerly winds brought patches of fog over the site.

Time series plot of Cape Newenham surface observations [click to enlarge]

Time series plot of Cape Newenham surface observations [click to enlarge]