Elevated NO2 signatures over the Northeast US

July 19th, 2019 |

TROPOMI NO2 concentration [click to enlarge]

TROPOMI NO2 concentration, courtesy of Bob Carp, SSEC [click to enlarge]

High temperatures (along with high dewpoints) prompted the issuance of Excessive Heat Warnings across much of the Northeast US on 19 July 2019. Under such conditions, surface NO2 concentrations in densely-populated urban areas often become elevated (primarily driven by emissions from motor vehicle exhaust, along with secondary sources such as coal-fired power plants and manufacturing / food processing industrial sources) — the high temperatures accelerate chemical reactions that form pollutants. The TROPOMI instrument detected plumes of elevated NO2 extending downwind (to the northeast) of major cities such as Philadelphia, New York City and Boston (above). The data are displayed using McIDAS-V.

A closer view centered on New York City is shown below.

TROPOMI NO2 concentration [click to enlarge]

TROPOMI NO2 concentration, courtesy of Bob Carp, SSEC [click to enlarge]

The Aqua MODIS Land Surface Temperature product around that time (below) revealed LST values in the 100-110ºF range across the New York City and Boston areas, where the daily maximum surface air temperatures were 95ºF and 93ªF, respectively.

Aqua MODIS Land Surface Temperature, with plots of daily maximum surface air temperatures [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS Land Surface Temperature, with plots of daily maximum surface air temperatures [click to enlarge]

Southwest US monsoon convection: GOES-15 vs GOES-16

July 12th, 2018 |

GOES-15 Visible (0.63 µm, left) and GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm, right) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-15 Visible (0.63 µm, left) and GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, right) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-15 (GOES-West) Visible (0.63 µm) and GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images — displayed in the native projection of each satellite, and centered on Las Vegas, Nevada — are shown above, depicting the development of deep convection across parts of the Desert Southwest on 12 July 2018. While the GOES-15 satellite was in Rapid Scan Operations mode (providing 2 extra images nearly every hour, at :11 and :41), a GOES-16 Mesoscale Sector was providing images at 1-minute intervals. Numerous flash flood watches, warnings and advisories were issued by NWS Las Vegas during the course of the day as some of the storms produced heavy rainfall (with as much as 0.75 inch at Cal Nev Ari and 0.61 inch at Needles, California KEED).

Note that the GOES-15 Visible images do not appear as bright as those from GOES-16 — prior to the GOES-R Series of satellites, the performance of visible detectors degraded over time, leading to imagery that appeared more dim as the Imager instrument aged. Visible detectors on the new ABI instrument benefit from on-orbit calibration to remedy this type of degradation.

The corresponding GOES-15 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) and GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images (below) revealed cloud-top infrared brightness temperatures around -70ºC (black enhancement) associated with some the stronger thunderstorms; this was the tropopause temperature at an altitude of 16.7 km / 48,300 feet on 00 UTC Las Vegas rawinsonde data. The improvement in spatial resolution from 4 km (at satellite sub-point) with GOES-15 to 2 km with GOES-16 is very apparent — even though the satellite viewing angle is about 10 degrees higher for GOES-16 than it is for GOES-15.

GOES-15 Infrared Window (10.7 µm, left) and GOES-16 "Clean" Infrared Window (10.3 µm, right) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-15 Infrared Window (10.7 µm, left) and GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm, right) images [click to play MP4 animation]

Higher spatial resolution Infrared Window images from Terra/Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS (below) revealed a cloud-top infrared brightness temperature as cold as -79ºC in far northwestern Arizona on the 2017 UTC VIIRS image.

Infrared Window images from Terra/Aqua MODIS (11.0 µm) and Suomi NPP VIIRS (11.45 µm) [click to enlarge]

Infrared Window images from Terra/Aqua MODIS (11.0 µm) and Suomi NPP VIIRS (11.45 µm) [click to enlarge]

In addition to heavy rainfall, some thunderstorm winds created areas of blowing sand:

The GOES-16 Total Precipitable Water derived product (below) showed that rich moisture was present across the Desert Southwest, fueling the development of the widespread convection. TPW values in the 1.0 to 2.0 inch range were seen over southeastern California, southwestern Arizona and far southern Nevada.

GOES-16 Total Precipitable Water derived product [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Total Precipitable Water derived product [click to play MP4 animation]

A 4-km resolution Terra/Aqua MODIS Total Precipitable Water product (below) indicated values in the 40-55 mm or 1.6-2.2 inch range.

Terra/Aqua MODIS Total Precipitable Water product [click to enlarge]

Terra/Aqua MODIS Total Precipitable Water product [click to enlarge]

Thermal signature of missile strikes at Shayrat Air Base in Syria

April 7th, 2017 |

EUMETSAT Meteosat-10 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with hourly surface reports; Shayrat Air Base is located at the center of the cyan circle [click to play animation]

EUMETSAT Meteosat-10 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with hourly surface reports; Shayrat Air Base is located at the center of the cyan circle [click to play animation]

EUMETSAT Meteosat-10 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above) showed the thermal signature or “hot spot” (darker black pixels) of fires resulting from US missile strikes at Syria’s Shayrat Air Base on 07 April 2017. The warmest infrared brightness temperature was 300.22 K on the 0030 UTC image (the SEVIRI instrument was scanning the Shayrat region at 00:40 UTC), which was about 25 K warmer than the surrounding background temperatures; though the fires were much smaller than the nominal 3 km spatial resolution of the 3.9 µm detector, the sub-pixel effect enables a signal of the fire radiative power to be registered.

A toggle between the 0015 and 0030 UTC images displayed using McIDAS-V (below; courtesy of William Straka, SSEC) highlights the appearance of the thermal signature at Shayrat Air Base. Two persistent hot spots located northeast of Palmyra could have been due to refinery or mining activities.

EUMETSAT Meteosat-10 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images at 0015 and 0030 UTC [click to enlarge]

EUMETSAT Meteosat-10 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images at 0015 and 0030 UTC [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 visible and thermal signatures of SpaceX EchoStar 23 rocket launch

March 16th, 2017 |

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm, left), Near-Infrared (1.61 µm, center) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, right) images [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm, left), Near-Infrared (1.61 µm, center) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, right) images [click to enlarge]

** The GOES-16 data posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational data and are undergoing testing. **

Visible and thermal signatures of the SpaceX EchoStar 23 rocket launch were seen with GOES-16 imagery on 16 March 2017. The set of 3 images above consists of 5-minute CONUS sector scans at 05:54:33 UTC (about 5 minutes before launch), 05:59:33 UTC (around launch time) and 06:04:33 UTC (about 5 minutes after launch). The 05:59:33 UTC image was actually scanning the NASA Kennedy Space Center (station identifier KXMR)  area at 06:00:38 UTC, just after the 06:00 UTC launch time. A faint bright glow of the rocket booster was seen on the 0.5-km resolution Visible (0.64 µm) image; the 1-km resolution Near-Infrared (1.61 µm) rocket signature was much brighter, because this spectral band senses radiation from both visible and infrared portions of the electromagnetic radiation spectrum (which of the two was a stronger contributor to the bright signal is difficult to determine); the 2-km resolution Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) image displayed a warm (dark black enhancement) “hot spot”, although it was not exceptionally warm (with a 306.8 K maximum brightness temperature).

A “warm signal” was also observed on the three GOES-16 ABI Water Vapor bands: Lower-Level (7.3 µm), Mid-Level (6.9 µm) and Upper-Level (6.2 µm), as shown below. While water vapor is certainly a by-product of rocket booster combustion, it is important to remember that the Water Vapor bands are first and foremost Infrared bands that sense the brightness temperature of a layer of moisture (which can vary in both altitude and depth, depending on the temperature/moisture profile of the atmosphere and/or the satellite viewing angle). In this case, the atmosphere was relatively dry over the region, with little moisture aloft to attenuate the rocket signature — shifting the roughly-corresponding GOES-13 Sounder (had the GOES-13 Sounder instrument been operational)  water vapor weighting functions (available from this site) to lower altitudes. However, moisture considerations aside, the rocket signature seen on the 05:59:33 UTC water vapor imagery was primarily a thermal anomaly.

GOES-16 Lower-Level Water Vapor (7.3 µm, left), Mid-Level Water Vapor (6.9 µm, middle) and Upper-Level Water Vapor (6.2 µm, right) images [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Lower-Level Water Vapor (7.3 µm, left), Mid-Level Water Vapor (6.9 µm, middle) and Upper-Level Water Vapor (6.2 µm, right) images [click to enlarge]

McIDAS-V images of GOES-16 Near-Infrared (1.6 µm and 2.2 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) data at 05:59:33 UTC (below; courtesy of William Straka, SSEC) provided another view of the rocket launch signature.

GOES-16 Near-Infrared (1.61 µm and 2.2 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Near-Infrared (1.61 µm and 2.2 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to enlarge]