NASA Global Hawk flight to study Tropical Storm Dolly

September 2nd, 2014
NASA Global Hawk flight path, with Cloud Height, Tropical Overshooting Tops, and Lightning data (click to play animation)

NASA Global Hawk flight path, with Cloud Height, Tropical Overshooting Tops, and Lightning data (click to play animation)

The NASA Global Hawk aircraft are once again being used to study tropical cyclones during the 2014 season. As part of CIMSS participation in GOES-R Proving Ground activities, a Global Hawk flight path tool was developed to display important parameters such as ACHA Cloud Top Height, Tropical Overshooting Tops, and lightning (above; click image to play animation). Global Hawk pilots use this product to navigate the aircraft around locations of potential turbulence.

GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

To support the Global Hawk investigation of Tropical Storm Dolly on 02 September 2014, the GOES-13 satellite was placed into Rapid Scan Operations (RSO) mode to provide images at 5-7 minute intervals. GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images (above; click to play animation) and 10.7 µm IR channel images (below; click to play animation) are shown which cover the 3-hour period of the Global Hawk flight segment shown above. There is evidence of overshooting tops seen in the visible imagery, with cloud-top IR brightness temperatures of -80º C and colder (purple color enhancement).

GOES-13 10.7 µm IR channel images (click to play animation)

GOES-13 10.7 µm IR channel images (click to play animation)

Air Algerie Plane Crash in Mali

July 24th, 2014
Meteosat-10 10.8 µm infrared channel images (click to enlarge)

Meteosat-10 10.8 µm infrared channel images (click to enlarge)

An Air Algerie Flight AH5017 crashed less than an hour after taking off from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso (the southern asterisk in the animation above). Contact was lost at 0155 UTC (Press Report) and wreckage was found southeast of the Gossi, Mali (the northern asterisk in the animation above). Cloud-top IR Brightness Temperatures in the Mesoscale Convective System through which the plane flew were as cold as -78º C.

Suomi NPP was flying over Mali and Burkina Faso at 0152 UTC on 24 July and provided high-resolution infrared and Day/Night Band imagery along the flight path. The toggle below, of the VIIRS 11.45 µm infrared and 0.70 µm Day/Night Band (Imagery courtesy of William Straka, UW CIMSS) shows the convective storm. The bright lights of Ouagadougou are evident, as well as lightning streaks within the storm. (Click for zoomed-in versions of 11.45 µm and Day Night Band images)

Suomi NPP VIIRS 11.45 µm infrared and 0.7 µm Day/Night Band images (click to enlarge)

Suomi NPP VIIRS 11.45 µm infrared and 0.7 µm Day/Night Band images (click to enlarge)

============================= Added 28 July 2014 =========================

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band image (click to enlarge)

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band image (click to enlarge)

The image above includes the light flare from the actual plane crash, circled in red. Suomi NPP was passing over the crash site between 1:55:00 and 1:55:30 UTC on 24 July 2014 (Link, navigation computed from Two Line Element files). The animation below shows Day/Night Band imagery (also courtesy of William Straka, UW CIMSS) from before the crash (21 July), the time of the crash on the 24th, and after the crash (25 July).

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band imagery on three days in July (click to Animate)

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band imagery on three days in July (click to Animate)

Mesoscale Convective Systems over the Upper Midwest, and a Mesoscale Convective Vortex over Wisconsin

June 18th, 2014
Suomi NPP VIIRS 11.45 µm IR channel and 0.7 µm Day/Night Band images, with cloud-to-ground lightning strikes

Suomi NPP VIIRS 11.45 µm IR channel and 0.7 µm Day/Night Band images, with cloud-to-ground lightning strikes

A comparison of AWIPS images of Suomi NPP VIIRS 11.45 µm IR channel and 0.7 µm Day/Night Band data (above) showed very large areas of cold cloud-top IR brightness temperatures associated with Mesoscale Convective Systems (MCSs) over the Upper Midwest region of the US at 08:00 UTC (3:00 AM Central time) on 18 June 2014. The coldest IR brightness temperature was -88º C over far southern  Minnesota.  Numerous bright white “streaks” were seen on the Day/Night Band (DNB) image, which indicated portions of the cloud that were illuminated by intense lightning activity. Cloud-to-ground lightning strikes are also plotted on the DNB image, showing how electrically-active these storms were at the time. The western MCS initially formed over eastern South Dakota during the previous evening, producing a few tornadoes there (SPC storm reports). The eastern MCS began to form later along the Wisconsin/Illinois border region — one aircraft flying near the northern edge of a rapidly-developing thunderstorm encountered severe turbulence.

Shortly after the time of the Suomi NPP satellite overpass, a 08:21 UTC overpass of the NOAA-19 POES satellite provided AVHRR-derived CLAVR-x Cloud Top Temperature (CTT), Cloud Top Height (CTH), and Cloud Type products (below). The minimum CTT value was -84º C, and the maximum CTH value was 14 km; much of the MCS cloud shield was classified as the Overshooting Top type (magenta color).

POES AVHRR Cloud Top Temperature, Cloud Top Height, and Cloud Type products

POES AVHRR Cloud Top Temperature, Cloud Top Height, and Cloud Type products

After sunrise, McIDAS  images of GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel data (below; click image to play animation; also available as an MP4 movie file) showed that the eroding MCS cirrus shield aloft exposed a middle-tropospheric Mesoscale Convective Vortex (MCV) which continued moving eastward across Wisconsin during the day.

GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

Consecutive overpasses of the Terra and Aqua satellites provided MODIS 0.65 µm visible channel images of the region (below). The convective outflow boundary from the earlier MCS activity had acted to push the warm frontal boundary (which had been acting as a focus for convective development) south of the Wisconsin/Illinois border, leaving a relatively stable boundary layer with a weak capping inversion aloft over Wisconsin — as a result, the MCV circulation did not play a role in initiating any new convective development.

MODIS 0.65 µm visible channel images, with surface reports and surface fronts

MODIS 0.65 µm visible channel images, with surface reports and surface fronts

Eruption of the Sangeang Api volcano in Indonesia

May 30th, 2014
MTSAT-2 0.63 µm visible channel and 10.8 µm IR channel images at 08:32 UTC

MTSAT-2 0.63 µm visible channel and 10.8 µm IR channel images at 08:32 UTC

A comparison of McIDAS images of MTSAT-2 0.63 µm visible channel and 10.8 µm IR channel data at 08:32 UTC on 30 May 2014 (above) showed the volcanic cloud from the first in a series of eruptions of the Sangeang Api volcano in Indonesia (aircraft photos). The coldest cloud-top IR brightness temperature at that time was -74.5º C; note that the tall volcanic cloud was casting a large shadow toward the east-southeast in the visible image.

An animation of MTSAT-2 10.8 µm IR images (below; click image to play animation; also available as an MP4 movie file) revealed that there were a number of smaller eruptions that followed the initial, larger eruption.

MTSAT-2 10.8 µm IR channel images (click to play animation)

MTSAT-2 10.8 µm IR channel images (click to play animation)

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MTSAT-2 false-color RGB images (click to play animation

MTSAT-2 false-color RGB images (click to play animation)

The NOAA/CIMSS Volcanic Cloud Monitoring MTSAT-2 false-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images (above; click image to play animation) showed the southeastward spread of volcanic ash cloud from the first 2 eruptions, while the Volcanic Ash Height product (below; click image to play animation) indicated that the ash may have reached altitudes of at least 12-14 km. Pilot reports in the vicinity placed the height of the volcanic cloud at 65,000 feet or 19.8 km.

NOAA/CIMSS Volcanic Ash Height product (click to play animation)

NOAA/CIMSS Volcanic Ash Height product (click to play animation)

Night-time McIDAS-V images of Suomi NPP VIIRS 11.45 µm IR, 3.9 µm shortwave IR, and 0.7 µm Day/Night Band (DNB) images of one of the secondary eruptions at 17:43 UTC on 30 May (below; courtesy of William Straka, SSEC) showed a cloud-top IR brightness temperature as cold as -77º C, along with the yellow-enhanced “hot spot” on the shortwave IR and the bright glow on the DNB image from the hot volcano vent and lava flows.

Suomi NPP VIIRS 11.45 µm IR, 3.9 µm shortwave IR, and 0.7 µm Day/Night Band images

Suomi NPP VIIRS 11.45 µm IR, 3.9 µm shortwave IR, and 0.7 µm Day/Night Band images

A composite of Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB images from 31 May, viewed using the SSEC RealEarth web map server (below) showed the widespread extent of the volcanic ash cloud from the ongoing eruption.

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB image composite

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB image composite

Due to the southeastward drift of the primary volcanic ash plume toward Australia, flights were cancelled at the Darwin airport. MTSAT-2 visible and IR images with polygons of Volcanic Ash Advisories are shown below (click image to play animation).

MTSAT-2 visible and IR images, with Volcanic Ash Advisory polygons

MTSAT-2 visible and IR images, with Volcanic Ash Advisory polygons

===== 01 June Update =====

A comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color images from 31 May and 01 June (below) showed that while the eruption was still ongoing, the amount of ash output had dramatically decreased.

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color images

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color images