Train of standing waves south of Hawai’i

November 25th, 2018 |
GOES-17 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-17 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-17 images shown here are preliminary and non-operational *

GOES-17 Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images (above) revealed an interesting train of standing waves about 100-150 miles south of the Big Island of Hawai’i on 25 November 2018. With the presence of moisture aloft, the 3 water vapor weighting functions — calculated using the 00 UTC Hilo sounding — were shifted to high enough altitudes to eliminate the sensing of radiation from features in the lower troposphere. There were no pilot reports of turbulence in the vicinity of these standing waves — but they were located outside of the primary commercial air traffic corridors to/from the islands.

GOES-17 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) and Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.37 µm) images (below) showed that these wave clouds were radiometrically transparent to longwave thermal energy being emitted from/near the surface — note that marine boundary layer stratocumulus clouds could be seen drifting westward within the easterly trade wind flow. As a result, the satellite-sensed 10.3 µm infrared brightness temperatures of the standing wave clouds were significantly warmer than that of the air at higher altitudes where they existed. These standing wave cloud features were, however, very apparent in 1.37 µm Cirrus imagery, along with what appeared to be other thin filaments of cirrus cascading southward overhead. The southward motion of the features seen on Cirrus imagery suggests that they existed at pressure levels of 370 hPa (26,900 feet / 8.2 km) or higher — altitudes where northerly winds were found on the Hilo sounding.

GOES-17 "Clean" Infrared Window (10.3 µm) and Near-Infrared "Cirrus" (1.37 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) and Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.37 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

A comparison of all 16 ABI spectral bands is shown below. Note that in the longwave infrared bands along the bottom 4 panels, the brightness temperatures are progressively colder (darker shades of green) on the 11.2 µm, 12.3 µm and 13.3 µm images — each of these bands are increasingly affected by water vapor absorption aloft, therefore more effectively sensing the thin layer of higher-altitude standing wave clouds. AWIPS cursor sampling showed the differences in detected brightness temperature at 3 different points along the feature: here, here and here. The increasing sensitivity to radiation emitted from higher altitudes can also be seen in a comparison of weighting functions for ABI bands 13, 14, 15 and 16.

GOES-17 images of all 16 ABI bands [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 images of all 16 ABI spectral bands [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-15 (GOES-West) Water Vapor (6.5 µm), Infrared Window (10.7 µm) and Infrared CO2 (13.3 µm) images (below) showed that the lower spatial resolution of the legacy GOES Imager infrared bands (4 km at satellite sub-point) was not able to resolve the individual waves as well as the 2-km GOES-17 ABI images . Also, as was seen with the GOES-17 imagery, the 13.3 µm CO2 brightness temperatures of the standing wave clouds were significantly colder (shades of blue) compared to those of the conventional 10.7 µm Infrared Window. The corresponding GOES-15 Visible imagery (0.63 µm) is also available: animated GIF | MP4.

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm, keft), Infrared Window (10.7 µm, center) and Infraered CO2 (13.3 µm, right) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm, keft), Infrared Window (10.7 µm, center) and Infraered CO2 (13.3 µm, right) images [click to play animation | MP4]

In comparisons of VIIRS True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images from Suomi NPP and NOAA-20 visualized using RealEarth (below), note the highly-transparent nature of the standing wave clouds on the RGB images; only the earliest 2256 UTC VIIRS 11.45 µm image displayed brightness temperatures of -20ºC and colder (cyan to blue enhancement).

Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 2256 UTC [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 2256 UTC [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 2336 UTC [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 2336 UTC [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 0028 UTC [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 0028 UTC [click to enlarge]

Terra (at 2043 UTC) and Aqua (at 2347 UTC) MODIS True Color RGB images along with retrievals of Cloud Phase, Cloud Top Temperature, Cloud Top Height and Cloud Top Pressure from the WorldView site (below) indicated that the standing wave feature was composed of ice crystal clouds exhibiting temperature values of -53ºC and colder (dark purple enhancement) located at heights of 12 km or higher (and at pressure levels at or above 250 hPa). These temperature/height/pressure values roughly corresponded to the upper portion of a layer of increasing relative humidity between 200-274 hPa on the Hilo sounding.

Terra MODIS True Color RGB image and retrievals of Cloud Phase, Cloud Top Temperature, Cloud Top Height and Cloud Top Pressure at 2043 UTC [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS True Color RGB image and retrievals of Cloud Phase, Cloud Top Temperature, Cloud Top Height and Cloud Top Pressure at 2043 UTC [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS True Color RGB image and retrievals of Cloud Phase, Cloud Top Temperature, Cloud Top Height and Cloud Top Pressure at 2347 UTC [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS True Color RGB image and retrievals of Cloud Phase, Cloud Top Temperature, Cloud Top Height and Cloud Top Pressure at 2347 UTC [click to enlarge]

However, an experimental CLAVR-x version of GOES-17 Cloud Type, Cloud Top Temperature and Cloud Top Height products (below; courtesy of Steve Wanzong, CIMSS) indicated Cirrus clouds having temperature values in the 210-200 K (-63 to -73ºC) range at heights within the 13-16 km range. These colder/higher values raise the question of whether the wave clouds might have formed and been ducted within the shallow temperature inversion near 15 km on the Hilo sounding.

GOES-17 Cloud Type product [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 Cloud Type product [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 Cloud Top Temperature product [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 Cloud Top Temperature product [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 Cloud Top Height product [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 Cloud Top Height product [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 False Color RGB images (below) vividly portrayed the transparent nature of the high-altitude standing wave cloud feature, which allowed westward-moving stratocumulus clouds within the marine boundary layer to plainly be seen. The RGB components are 1.38 µm / 0.64 µm /  1.61 µm.

GOES-17 False Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 False Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

A coherent explanation of this feature and what caused it to form remains elusive, earning it a distinguished place in the what the heck is this? blog category. Perhaps one clue existed in the winds aloft, as depicted by the NAM at 200 hPa, 250 hPa and 300 hPa (below), which showed northerly/northeasterly flow that was decelerating as it entered a trough axis (the region within the red box). Could this flow deceleration have induced a “reverse flow” which then caused enough weak lift to form the thin standing wave clouds within the aforementioned semi-moist 200-274 hPa layer seen on the Hilo sounding? No other obvious forcing mechanisms were in the immediate area — a slowly-approaching surface cold front was too far north of Hawai’i to have played a role.

NAM Winds at 200 hPa, 250 hPa and 300 hPa [click to enlarge]

NAM Winds at 200 hPa, 250 hPa and 300 hPa [click to enlarge]

Mesoscale Convective System in the Upper Midwest

July 6th, 2016 |

GOES-13 Infrared Window (10.7 um) images, with SPC storm reports [click to play animation]

GOES-13 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images, with SPC storm reports [click to play animation]

GOES-13 (GOES-East) 4-km resolution Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images (above) showed the development of a large Mesoscale Convective System (MCS) which produced tornadoes, large hail, and damaging winds (SPC storm reports | NWS La Crosse summary) as it propagated southeastward across the Upper Midwest during the evening and overnight hours of 05 July06 July 2016.

A sequence of 1-km resolution Terra/Aqua MODIS (11.0 µm), 1-km resolution POES AVHRR (12.0 µm) and 375-meter resolution Suomi NPP VIIRS (11.45 µm) Infrared images (below) showed better details of such features as overshooting tops, some of which exhibited IR brightness temperature values as cold as -78º C on MODIS, -81º C on AVHRR and -86º C on VIIRS.

Infrared MODIS (11.0 um), AVHRR (12.0 um) and VIIRS (11.45 um) images, with SPC storm reports [click to play animation]

Infrared MODIS (11.0 µm), AVHRR (12.0 µm) and VIIRS (11.45 µm) images, with SPC storm reports [click to play animation]

A comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images at 0852 UTC or 3:52 am local time (below) showed the MCS as its core was centered over northern Illinois. Note how the tall, dense cloud mass blocked the view of nearly all city lights over a large area — including the normally very large and very bright lights of the Chicago metroplex. With almost no illumination from the Moon (which was in its Waxing Crescent phase, at 1% of Full), only the faint light of airglow helped to illuminate some cloud features over the northern portion of the satellite scene. In addition, numerous bright white streaks were seen in the Day/Night Band image along the leading (southern) edge of the MCS, due to cloud illumination from intense lightning activity; one lone lightning streak was evident in Wisconsin, whose intensity was bright enough to saturate the Day/Night Band detectors (hence the long “post-saturation recovery” streak as the sensor continued scanning toward the southeast).

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

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

A few hours earlier at 0339 UTC, the CLAVR-x POES AVHRR Cloud Top Height product (below) showed areas with height values of 16-17 km (lighter cyan color enhancement) — the large amount of water and ice particles contained within such tall clouds was therefore able to effectively block the view of city lights on the VIIRS Day/Night Band image. Note that a Cloud Top Height product will be available from the ABI instrument on GOES-R.

POES AVHRR Cloud Top Height product and Infrared (12.0 um) image [click to enlarge]

POES AVHRR Cloud Top Height product and Infrared (12.0 µm) image [click to enlarge]

GOES-14 SRSO-R imagery: “mystery feature” over eastern Tennessee

May 21st, 2015 |


 

GOES-14 remained in Super Rapid Scan Operations for GOES-R (SRSO-R) demonstration mode on 21 May 2015, providing 1-minute images for much of the eastern US (see this blog post) — and another interesting feature was seen over eastern Tennessee that was rather perplexing. Since this easily qualified for the “What the heck is this?” blog category, we thought it might be fun to have a contest of sorts and invite readers to submit their wild guesses and/or educated explanations. We will post more imagery later in the day on 22 May as to our explanation — but in the meantime, leave a comment on the blog (comments are moderated, so they will not appear until approved), or send your thoughts to our Twitter account.

—– 22 May Update —–

Thanks to all who submitted their suggestions here and on Twitter of an explanation of the “What the heck is this” feature; Here is our best guess:

GOES-13 (GOES-East) visible, 3.9 µm shortwave IR, 6.5 µm, and 10.7 µm IR images [click to play animation]

GOES-13 (GOES-East) visible, 3.9 µm shortwave IR, 6.5 µm, and 10.7 µm IR images [click to play animation]

The first step in trying to understand what might be causing this interesting feature was to examine 4-panel images showing imagery from other GOES channels (or spectral bands): in this case, the 3.9 µm “shortwave IR” channel, the 6.5 µm “water vapor” channel, and the 10.7 µm “IR window channel” (above; click image to play animation). The 3.9 µm IR brightness temperatures of cloud features were in the +20 to +25º range, while the 10.7 µm IR brightness temperatures were in the +3 to +5º C range — the significantly warmer shortwave IR temperatures indicates that the clouds were comprised of liquid or supercooled cloud droplets. Otherwise, no significant clues were seen on the IR (or the water vapor) images.

However, the METAR surface reports offer an important clue: a rain shower moved from southwest to northeast through the region during the preceding overnight hours with the passage of a weak low pressure system (surface analyses), with Knoxville (station identifier KTYS) receiving 0.23″ and Oak Ridge (KOQT) receiving 0.10″ of rainfall (radar-estimated 24-hour precipitation). Therefore, one plausible explanation of the feature seen on visible imagery is that it was a shallow pool of stable, rain-cooled air near the surface that was spreading out and flowing downslope (westward) into the Great Valley of East Tennessee during the morning and early afternoon hours.

While the outer edges of this rain-cooled stable air feature remained generally cloud-free, the inner core exhibited a good deal of cloud development (including what appeared to be a more dense northwest-to-southeast oriented cloud band through the middle). An overlay of hourly RTMA surface winds (below; click image to play animation) indicated that there was convergence within the feature (to the lee of higher terrain within the Cumberland Plateau), which along with daytime heating of the moist soil would have helped to promote such shallow cloud development.

GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images, with RTMA surface winds [click to play animation]

GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images, with RTMA surface winds [click to play animation]

For clouds within expanding the rain-cooled boundary at 1534 UTC, the CLAVR-x POES AVHRR Cloud Type was liquid, with Cloud Top Height values of 1-3 km and Cloud Top Temperature values of +2 to +10º C (below).

CLAVR-x POES AVHRR Cloud Type, Cloud Top Height, and Cloud Top Temperature products

CLAVR-x POES AVHRR Cloud Type, Cloud Top Height, and Cloud Top Temperature products

Typhoon Dolphin approaches Guam

May 14th, 2015 |
Himawari-8 11.22 µm infrared channel images (click to play animation)

Himawari-8 11.22 µm infrared channel images (click to play animation)

The animation above (available here as an mp4, and here on YouTube) shows 11.22 µm infrared imagery at 2.5-minute time steps (bottom) and 10-minute time steps (top) from Himawari-8 on 14 May 2015. Category 2 intensity Typhoon Dolphin is approaching Guam, seen at the left edge of both panels in the frame. The 2.5-minute imagery gives a much better indication of the quick rise and decay of overshooting tops (IR brightness temperatures of the storm tops approach -95º C!). A 10-minute time step cannot fully resolve the evolution of these features. The 2.5-minute time step also better captures the divergent flow (and outward-propagating gravity waves) at the top of the central dense overcast. No eye was yet apparent in the infrared imagery, or on DMSP SSMI 85 GHz microwave imagery.

A similar animation from the previous day, 13 May, is shown here: gif, mp4, YouTube. The better organization of the storm on 14 May is readily apparent.

How high are the clouds in the Central Dense Overcast (CDO)? Cloud Heights are available from CLAVR-x (Clouds from AVHRR Extended). Data from Geostationary Satellites are processed and are available to download here. Values from COMS-1 and from MTSAT-2 (displayed with McIDAS-V) suggest maximum cloud heights near 55,500 feet.

The MIMIC Total Precipitable Water (TPW) product, below, showed that Typhoon Dolphin was able to tap rich moisture from the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) during the 13-14 May period; TPW values within the tropical cyclone circulation were often in the 60-65 mm or 2.5-2.6 inch range (darker red color enhancement).

MIMIC Total Preciptable Water product (click to play animation)

MIMIC Total Preciptable Water product (click to play animation)

Visible Imagery from Himawari-8, just after sunrise on 15 May, show continuous development of short-lived overshooting tops to the east of Guam. More information on the storm is available at the CIMSS Tropical Cyclones site, the JMA Tropical Cyclone site and the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

Himawari-8 0.6363 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

Himawari-8 0.6363 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)