Gypsy moth defoliation in parts of New England

June 26th, 2016

Props to the Boston/Taunton National Weather Service forecast office for sending out the following on Twitter:

Terra MODIS true-color images from 25 May and 26 June 2016 [click to enlarge

Terra MODIS true-color images from 25 May and 26 June 2016 [click to enlarge]

Taking a closer look at 250-meter resolution Terra MODIS true-color (Bands 1/4/3) Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images from the SSEC MODIS Today site (above), the loss of “green-ness” due to defoliation of large areas of trees is quite evident — most notably in western Rhode Island, but also across the border into extreme southern Massachusetts and in parts of eastern Connecticut. This defoliation was caused by an infestation of gypsy moth caterpillars (media report 1 | media report 2).

The corresponding Terra MODIS false-color (Bands 7/2/1) RGB images (below) also help to highlight the areas of tree defoliation, as indicated by a decrease in bright green hues.

Terra MODIS false-color images from 25 May and 26 June 2016 [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS false-color images from 25 May and 26 June 2016 [click to enlarge]

On 25 June, the highly-concentrated area of tree defoliation across northwestern Rhode Island exhibited a low Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) of 0.4 to 0.6, compared to other areas in the southern and eastern part of the state where NDVI values were in the 0.7 to 0.8 range (below).

Aqua MODIS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) product [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) product [click to enlarge]

Much of the affected region was experiencing Abnormally Dry to Moderate Drought conditions, and had only received  between 25-75% of normal precipitation during the preceding 30/60/90-day periods — this created ideal conditions for the hatching of gypsy moth caterpillar eggs. If these dry conditions persist, it will limit the ability of the deciduous trees to recover and begin producing leaves again during the remainder of the summer season.

Southwest US summer solstice: smoke, and solar panels

June 20th, 2016

 

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]

A nighttime comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 0853 UTC on 20 June 2016 (above) revealed 2 key features of the large Cedar Fire that had been burning in eastern Arizona: (1) the fire “hot spot” signature (black to yellow to red pixels) on the Shortwave Infrared image, located about 20 miles southwest of Show Low (KSOW), and (2) an approximately 50-mile-wide pall of dense smoke aloft — illuminated by a nearly-full Moon — that had drifted westward then northwestward during the previous 24 hours and was centered northwest of Prescott (KPRC). Note that there was no signature of this smoke feature on the Infrared Window image, since smoke is effectively transparent to infrared radiation.

During the following afternoon hours, a toggle between 2117 UTC Aqua MODIS Near-Infrared “Cirrus detection” (1.61 µm), Visible (0.65 µm), Infrared Window (11.0 µm) and Topography images (below) showed that the smoke aloft had moved northward during the day and was over far northwestern Arizona and southwestern Utah. On the Visible image, the dense layer of smoke obscured the view of surface features that are normally seen on a cloud-free day, but the edges of the smoke feature were difficult or impossible to identify. However, the smoke feature was quite evident on the Near-Infrared “Cirrus detection” image — due to the fact that this spectral band (which will be on the GOES-R ABI instrument) is useful for detecting features composed of particles that are efficient scatterers of light (such as cirrus cloud ice crystals, airborne dust or volcanic ash, and in this case, smoke). As was seen in the VIIRS example above, there was no signature of the smoke on the Infrared Window image — the cooler (lighter gray) shades seen in that region were a result of higher terrain that exhibited cooler brightness temperatures due to more abundant vegetation.

Aqua MODIS Near-Infrared Cirrus (1.16 µm), Visible (0.65 µm), Infrared Window (11.0 µm), and Topography images [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS Near-Infrared Cirrus (1.61 µm), Visible (0.65 µm), Infrared Window (11.0 µm), and Topography images [click to enlarge]

An animation of GOES-15 (GOES-West) Visible (0.63 µm) images (below) showed the aforementioned Cedar Fire smoke in northwestern Arizona early in the day (highlighted by a favorable forward scattering sun-satellite geometry), and also showed the smaller smoke plume from the Reservoir Fire that had just begun burning northeast of Los Angeles. In addition, the brief appearance of bright white flashes across Southern California and extreme southern Nevada (as seen on the 1800, 1830, 1841 and 1845 UTC images) were a result of reflection of sunlight from large solar panel farms.

GOES-15 Visible (0.63 µm) images [click to play animation]

GOES-15 Visible (0.63 µm) images [click to play animation]

 

Mesoscale Convective Vortex (MCV) in Texas

June 12th, 2016

GOES-13 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images [click to play animation]

GOES-13 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images [click to play animation]

GOES-13 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images (above) showed a large Mesoscale Convective System (MCS) that developed in far eastern New Mexico after 2000 UTC on 11 June 2016, then moved eastward and eventually southward over West Texas during the nighttime hours on 12 June. The MCS produced wind gusts to 75 mph and hail of 1.00 inch in diameter in Texas (SPC storm reports).

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

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


Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images at 0801 UTC or 3:01 am local time (above) showed cloud-top infrared brightness temperatures were as cold as -83º C (violet color enhancement), along with a number of bright streaks on the Day/Night Band image due to cloud illumination by intense lightning activity (there were around 5000 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes associated with this MCS). On the infrared image, note the presence of cloud-top gravity waves propagating outward away from the core of overshooting tops.

This MCS produced heavy rainfall, with as much as 3.44 inches reported near Lomax (NWS Midland TX rainfall map | PNS). An animation of radar reflectivity (below, courtesy of Brian Curran, NWS Midland) showed the strong convective cells moving southward (before the Midland radar was struck by lightning and temporarily rendered out of service).

Midland, Texas radar reflectivity [click to play MP4 animation]

Midland, Texas radar reflectivity [click to play MP4 animation]

During the subsequent daytime hours, GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images (below) revealed the presence of a large and well-defined Mesoscale Convective Vortex (MCV) as the cirrus canopy from the decaying MCS eroded. A fantastic explanation of this MCV was included in the afternoon forecast discussion from NWS Dallas/Fort Worth. New thunderstorms were seen to develop over North Texas during the late afternoon and early evening hours as the MCV approached — there were isolated reports of hail and damaging winds with this new convection (SPC storm reports). Initiation of this new convection may have also been aided by convergence of the MCV with a convective outflow boundary moving southward from Oklahoma.

GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images [click to play animation]

GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images [click to play animation]

A sequence of Visible images from POES AVHRR (0.86 µm), Terra MODIS (0.65 µm), and Suomi NPP VIIRS (0.64 µm) (below) showed snapshots of the MCV at various times during the day.

Visible images from POES AVHRR (0.86 µm), Terra MODIS (0.65 µm), and Suomi NPP VIIRS (0.64 µm) [click to enlarge]

Visible images from POES AVHRR (0.86 µm), Terra MODIS (0.65 µm), and Suomi NPP VIIRS (0.64 µm) [click to enlarge]

Bonnie

May 29th, 2016

GOES-13 6.5 µm Water Vapor Infrared images [click to play animation]

GOES-13 6.5 µm Water Vapor Infrared images[click to play animation]

Tropical Depression 2 was upgraded to Tropical Storm Bonnie at 2100 UTC on Saturday 28 May, the second named storm of the 2016 Atlantic Season (Hurricane Alex, which formed in January, was the first named storm). The water vapor animation above shows that Bonnie’s initial spin may be traced to a front associated with an occluded system which crawled through the eastern United States, exiting on about 23 May 2016. It’s not uncommon for vorticity associated with extratropical cyclone fronts to sow the seed of a tropical cyclone, especially early (or late) in the season. In this case, the cold front failed to pass Bermuda, and by 27 May, persistent thunderstorms about halfway between Bermuda and the Bahamas suggested tropical cyclogenesis was underway (GOES-13 visible image animations: 26 May | 27 May).

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water derived from Microwave imagery, 1800 UTC 28 May - 1700 UTC 30 May [click to enlarge]

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water derived from Microwave imagery, 1800 UTC 28 May – 1700 UTC 30 May [click to enlarge]

Total Precipitable Water fields from the microwave MIMIC product, above, show the system was embedded deep within tropical moisture (24-26 May animation). Tropical moisture associated with the storm moved up the east coast of the United States into the mid-Atlantic States with local flooding reported. This longer animation (from 21 through 28 May) shows that persistent westward motion of moisture occurred over the tropical Atlantic well in advance of Bonnie’s formation.

Rapidscat Scatterometer Winds, 1012 UTC on 27 May [click to enlarge]

Rapidscat Scatterometer Winds, 1012 UTC on 27 May [click to enlarge]

The tropical wave that produced Bonnie showed a closed circulation as early as 1012 UTC on 27 May according to Rapidscat scatterometer winds, above, and MODIS Sea Surface Temperatures, below, showed very warm water (with SST values of 80º F) over the Gulf Stream.

MODIS-based Sea Surface Temperatures, 1848 UTC on 27 May [click to enlarge]

MODIS-based Sea Surface Temperatures, 1848 UTC on 27 May [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.70 µm Visible) and Infrared (11.45 µm) Imagery at 0621 UTC on 27 May 2016 [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.70 µm Visible) and Infrared (11.45 µm) Imagery at 0621 UTC on 27 May 2016 [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP overflew this tropical system at various times during its lifecycle. Shortly after midnight on 27 May 2016, above, strong convection was centered just north of the apparent surface circulation (as inferred by the curved bands of low-level clouds, clouds made visible by moonlight in the night-time VIIRS Day/Night Band visible imagery). Twenty-four hours later, at 0742 UTC on 28 May, below, in a more zoomed-in view, the (then) Tropical Depression Number 2 is supporting strong convection that is obscuring the low-level circulation center.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.70 µm Visible) and Infrared (11.45 µm) Imagery at 0742 UTC on 28 May 2016 [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.70 µm Visible) and Infrared (11.45 µm) Imagery at 0742 UTC on 28 May 2016 [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.70 µm Visible) and Infrared (11.45 µm) Imagery at 0723 UTC on 29 May 2016 [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.70 µm Visible) and Infrared (11.45 µm) Imagery at 0723 UTC on 29 May 2016 [click to enlarge]

Finally, at 0723 UTC on 29 May, (above) after strong wind shear has displaced all convection well north of the center, the low-level circulation of Tropical Storm Bonnie is southeast of the South Carolina Coast. Strong convection is over North Carolina. This shear was noted in the 0300 UTC and 0900 UTC (29 May) Discussions from the National Hurricane Center. The effect of shear is apparent in the two GOES-13 Infrared Images below, from 2045 UTC on 28 May when convection was close to the center, and from 1045 UTC on 29 May, shortly before landfall, when convection was stripped from the center and displaced well to the north.

GOES-13 Infrared (10.7 µm) Imagery at 2045 UTC on 28 May and at 1045 UTC 29 May 2016; the Yellow Arrow points to the low-level circulation center [click to enlarge]

GOES-13 Infrared (10.7 µm) Imagery at 2045 UTC on 28 May and at 1045 UTC 29 May 2016; the Yellow Arrow points to the low-level circulation center [click to enlarge]

Closer views of the sheared system on 28 May can be seen on 1906 UTC VIIRS and 1937 UTC AVHRR Visible and Infrared images, as well as a GOES-13 Visible animation.

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

GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

The remnant circulation of Bonnie moved very slowly northeastward during the 30 May – 01 June period, as seen in GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images covering each of those 3 days (above; also available as a large 95 Mbyte animated GIF). The periodic formation of deep convective clusters continued to produce heavy rainfall over parts of far eastern North and South Carolina.

On the morning of 01 June, an overpass of the Metop-B ASCAT instrument sampled the flow around the low-level circulation center (LLCC) off the coast of North Carolina; several hours later, Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images provided a high-resolution view of the system at 1755 UTC (below). Cloud-top IR brightness temperatures were as cold as -78º C within the small convective cluster located just north of the LLCC.

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]