Severe Tropical Cyclone Ita

April 10th, 2014
MTSAT-2 10.8 µm IR channel images (click to play animation)

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

McIDAS images of MTSAT-2 10.8 µm IR channel data (above; click image to play animation) showed the development of a distinct eye associated with Intense Cyclone Ita (23P) as it moved southwestward across the Coral Sea toward the coast of Queensland, Australia on 10-11 April 2014. Cyclone Ita exhibited a period of rapid intensification (Advanced Dvorak Technique plot) early on 10 April, reaching Category 4 intensity (JTWC advisory) on the Saffir-Simpson scale (or a Category 5 on the Australian intensity scale: BOM advisory). Ita had been moving through an environment with weak deep layer wind shear and over warm sea surface temperatures, which aided in its intensification.

A timely overpass of a Metop polar-orbiting satellite provided ASCAT surface scatterometer winds at 11:26 UTC, as seen on an image from the CIMSS Tropical Cyclones site (below).

MTSAT-1 10.8 IR image with Metop ASCAT surface scatterometer winds

MTSAT-1 10.8 IR image with Metop ASCAT surface scatterometer winds

The structure of the eye of Ita was nicely displayed on a TRMM satellite TMI 85 GHz microwave image at 14:32 UTC (below).

TRMM TMI 85 GHz microwave image

TRMM TMI 85 GHz microwave image

A McIDAS-V image comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS 11.45 µm IR and 0.7 µm Day/Night Band data at 14:58 UTC (below; courtesy of William Straka, SSEC/CIMSS) showed great detail of the eye and surrounding eyewall region of Ita.

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

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

The first available early-morning MTSAT-2 0.675 µm visible channel image at 20:32 UTC (below) revealed a convective tower within the northeastern portion of the eyewall region, with a distinct overshooting top (10-11 April animation of MTSAT-2 visible images).

MTSAT-2 0.675 µm visible channel image

MTSAT-2 0.675 µm visible channel image

The MTSAT InfraRed/Water Vapor difference product (below; click image to play animation) indicated that overshooting tops were likely around a large area surrounding the core of Ita.

MTSAT IR/WV Difference product (click to play animation)

MTSAT IR/WV Difference product (click to play animation)

===== 11 April Update =====

A TRMM satellite TMI 85 GHz microwave image at 05:23 UTC showed that Ita had a double-eyewall structure as it was close to making landfall, indicating that the cyclone was undergoing an eyewall replacement cycle — this suggests that Ita was in a weakening phase as it made landfall.

TRMM TMI 85 GHz microwave image

TRMM TMI 85 GHz microwave image

Cyclone Gillian in the Indian Ocean

March 24th, 2014
MTSAT-2 10.8 µm IR channel images (click to play animation)

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

McIDAS images of MTSAT-2 10.8 µm IR channel data (above; click image to play animation) showed the southward motion of Cyclone Gillian as it intensified over the far eastern Indian Ocean to Category 5 intensity on 23 March 2014 (Joint Typhoon Warning Center advisory). A Category 5 tropical cyclone in the Southern Hemisphere (and in the Indian Ocean basin) is a relatively rare event.

An MTSAT-2 IR image from the CIMSS Tropical Cyclones site with an overlay of Metop ASCAT surface scatterometer winds at 14:20 UTC (below) showed the tight radius of high winds around the center of circulation.

MTSAT-2 10.8 µm IR image with Metop ASCAT surface scatterometer winds

MTSAT-2 10.8 µm IR image with Metop ASCAT surface scatterometer winds

MTSAT-2 0.675 µm visible channel images (below; click image to play animation) revealed the formation of a well-defined eye on 23 March.

MTSAT-2 0.675 µm visible channel images [click to play animation]

MTSAT-2 0.675 µm visible channel images [click to play animation]

A plot of the Advanced Dvorak Technique (ADT) satellite-based intensity estimate (below) showed the period of rapid intensification on 23 March, with tropcial cyclone Gillian reaching its peak intensity late on 23 March.

Advanced Dvorak Technique (ADT) plot for Cyclone Gillian

Advanced Dvorak Technique (ADT) plot for Cyclone Gillian

A comparison of MTSAT-2 10.8 µm IR channel data and DMSP SSMIS-16 85 GHz microwave brightness temperature data (below) demonstrated the ability of microwave imagery to show important storm details (such as the closed eyewall, and curved spiral bands) that might be obscured by clouds on conventional IR images.

MTSAT-2 10.8 µm IR image and DMSP SSMIS-16 85 GHz microwave brightness temperature image

MTSAT-2 10.8 µm IR image and DMSP SSMIS-16 85 GHz microwave brightness temperature image

The MIMIC Total Precipitable Water (TPW) product (below; click image to play animation) showed the circulation of high TPW values as Cyclone Gillian began to move southward from Indonesia on 21 March. As the tropical cyclone began to encounter an environment of increasing vertical wind shear poleward of about 20º S latitude, the storm began to rapidly decrease in intensity — and on 26 March Gillian was downgraded to a tropical low.

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water product (click to play animation)

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water product (click to play animation)

Eruption of the Kelut volcano in Java, Indonesia

February 13th, 2014
MTSAT-1R 10.8 µm IR channel images (click to play animation)

MTSAT-1R 10.8 µm IR channel images (click to play animation)

McIDAS-X images of MTSAT-1R 10.8 µm IR channel data (above; click image to play animation; also available as an MP4 animation) showed the rapid expansion of the volcanic umbrella cloud resulting from the eruption of Kelut (aka Kelud) on the Indonesian island of Java on 13 February 2014. The MTSAT-1R satellite was in rapid scan mode, providing images at 10-minute intervals (with some gaps). The initial signal of a volcanic cloud appeared as a small cluster of cold pixels on the 16:09 UTC (11:09 PM local time) IR image.

The dramatic signature of a distinct circular-shaped warm core (shades of red, around -60º C) surrounded by a ring of colder (shades of white, -75º to -80º C) cloud-top IR brightness temperatures possibly indicated that a portion of the cloud plume associated with the explosive eruption rose well into the lower stratosphere, and was therefore radiating at the warmer temperatures that existed far above the tropopause. The leading edge of the top of the cloud plume eventually exhibited IR brightness temperatures colder than -80º C (shades of violet) as it drifted toward the west-southwest, with a minimum of -84.5º C on the 19:29 UTC image. Along the upwind (eastern) portion of the volcanic cloud, a signature of “bow shock waves” was evident: an indication that the massive and dense volcanic cloud was acting as a barrier to the ambient easterly flow across the region. Volcanic lightning was also generated by the rising ash plume (see photos on the Wired Science “Eruptions” blog posts 1 and 2).

Suomi NPP VIIRS 11.45 µm IR channel and 0.7 µm Day/Night Band images

Suomi NPP VIIRS 11.45 µm IR channel and 0.7 µm Day/Night Band images

A more detailed view was provided by McIDAS-V images of Suomi NPP VIIRS 375-meter resolution 11.45 µm IR channel and 750-meter resolution 0.7 µm Day/Night Band data (above; images courtesy of William Straka, CIMSS). A ring of gravity waves could be seen around the periphery of the volcanic cloud shield; the coldest IR brightness temperature within the small cluster of “overshooting tops” was 175 K or -98º C (closer view). Since the Moon was in the Waxing Gibbous phase at 98% of full, it provided ample illumination for a “visible image at night” using the VIIRS Day/Night Band — note how the ash-laden volcanic cloud exhibited a darker gray appearance compared to the surrounding brighter white meteorological clouds.

Surabaya/Juanda rawinsonde data (12 UTC on 13 February)

Surabaya/Juanda rawinsonde data (12 UTC on 13 February)

A plot of the 13 February/12:00 UTC rawinsonde data from the nearby (map/IR image comparison) Surabaya/Juanda International Airport (above) showed that a very moist and marginally unstable (Lifted Index of only  -1.7) atmosphere existed over the region about 4 hours prior to the eruption — the tropopause was located at 105 millibars (mb), at an altitude of 16.29 km where the air temperature was -84.5º C. According to the volcanic ash advisory issued by the Darwin VAAC at 00:43 UTC on 14 February, the top of the volcanic ash extended to 55,000 feet or 16.76 km — somewhere between 100 mb and 87.1 mb on the Surabaya sounding. The warmest temperature recorded in the stratosphere by the sonde instrument was -71.3º C at 64.9 mb or 19.02 km.

A GOES-R Volcanic Ash Height product (VISITview lesson | PowerPoint) — derived using MTSAT-2 data — indicated that downwind portions of the ash cloud reached the 18-20 km ASL range (black color enhancement), with a maximum ash height value of 22 km (below; click image to play animation). CALIOP data from a CALIPSO overpass of the Kelut volcanic cloud just around 18:13 UTC on 13 February showed that the top of the volcanic cloud was generally at an altitude of 18-19 km, with some cloud/ash material reaching a maximum height of 26 km; taking that data source into consideration, a subsequent volcanic ash advisory issued by the Darwin VAAC at 17:09 UTC on 14 February revised the maximum ash height to 65,000 feet or 19.8 km.

MTSAT-2 Volcanic Ash Height product (click to play animation)

MTSAT-2 Volcanic Ash Height product (click to play animation)

With the arrival of early morning daylight, MTSAT-1R 0.68 µm visible channel images (below) showed the dense volcanic ash plume drifting west-southwestward; there was also a subtle signature of the “bow shock waves” seen along the eastern edge of the ash plume, similar to what was observed on the IR imagery.

MTSAT-1R 0.68 µm visible channel images

MTSAT-1R 0.68 µm visible channel images

Back to the topic of the 26 km height seen on the CALIPSO data: on the 10-minute interval MTSAT-1R 10.8 µm IR imagery, the warmest cloud-top IR brightness temperature within the “circular warm spot” of the volcanic cloud was -56ºC at 17:19 UTC. The 13 February/12 UTC Surabaya/Juanda rawinsonde only made it up to 64.9 mb or 19.02 km (where it was -71.3ºC) — however, the 14 February/00 UTC rawinsonde ascended all the way to 10 mb (below). So using this later sounding, the air temperature of -56ºC corresponded to an height somewhere between 24.9 mb (24.8 km) and 20 mb (26.2 km) — which roughly agrees with the 26 km height seen on the CALIOP data.

Surabaya/Juanda rawinsonde data (00 UTC on 14 February)

Surabaya/Juanda rawinsonde data (00 UTC on 14 February)

Additional satellite products showing details of the Kelut volcanic eruption can be found on Nicarnica Aviation blog posts (1 | 2).

 

Monsoon low over northwestern Australia

January 21st, 2014
MTSAT-2 0.675 µm visible channel and 10.8 µm IR channel images (click to play animation)

MTSAT-2 0.675 µm visible channel and 10.8 µm IR channel images (click to play animation)

McIDAS images of MTSAT-2 daytime 0.675 µm visible channel data and night-time 10.8 µm IR channel data (above; click image to play animation; also available as an MP4 animation) showed a monsoon low which exhibited a well-defined circulation for several days as it slowly tracked southwestward across the northwestern portion of Australia during the 15-21 January 2014 time period.

The mean seal level pressure analyses from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (below; click image to play animation) indicated that the monsoon low deepened to a pressure of 988 hPa at 12 UTC on 19 January.

Mean sea level pressure analyses (click image to play animation)

Mean sea level pressure analyses (click image to play animation)

MTSAT-2 visible images and surface observations during the 17-18 January period are shown below (click image to play animation), visualized using the SSEC RealEarth web map server.

MTSAT-2 0.675 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

MTSAT-2 0.675 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)