Gravity Waves Associated with Calbuco Volcanic Eruption

April 23rd, 2015
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Suomi NPP VIIRS 11.45 µm imagery, 0509 UTC 23 April 2015 (Click to enlarge)

Suomi NPP overflew the erupting Calbuco Volcano in southern Chile around 0509 UTC or 2:09 am local time on 23 April 2015. The image above is the VIIRS 11.45 µm infrared imagery (click here for a similar view).

The shock of the volcanic eruption generated mesospheric gravity waves (or “mesospheric airglow waves”) that were evident in the Day/Night Band, shown in the toggle below between the 11.45 µm and the night-time visible imagery. No lunar illumination was present, so the waves were apparent via the Earth’s airglow as the primary light source; this “night glow” is emitted from a variety of high-altitude (80-105 km) gases located near the mesopause (reference).

IO5_DNB_04315_0509_Calbuco_VolGW

Toggle between VIIRS 11.45 µm infrared image and 0.70 µm Day/Night Band image, 0509 UTC 23 April 2015 (Click to enlarge)

(VIIRS images courtesy of William Straka, SSEC)

Himawari-8 visible images

April 19th, 2015
Himiwari-8 AHI 0.63 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

Himiwari-8 AHI 0.63 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

0.5-km resolution Himawari-8 AHI 0.63 µm visible channel images from the SSEC RealEarth web map server (above; click image to play animation) revealed a number of interesting features from the Sea of Okhotsk to the Bering Sea during the 18 April – 19 April 2015 period, which included (1) a series of lee waves immediately west of the Kuril Islands (the chain of islands south of the Kamchatka Peninsula), (2) the cyclonic circulation that formed over the western Bering Sea off the Russian coast, along the far northern edge of a remnant frontal boundary, and (3) cloud streets in the central Bering Sea, streaming southward and southwestward from the sea ice across the open waters.

A comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band and 11.45 µm IR channel images with an overlay of the19 April / 00 UTC surface analysis (below) showed the location of the remnant frontal boundary, which was an axis of convergence between strong northerly winds over the central Bering Sea (causing the cloud streets and heavy freezing spray which would be a concern for shipping activities in that area) and a ridge of high pressure southeast of the Kamchatka Peninsula.

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

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

Ice over the Great Lakes

April 17th, 2015
Suomi-NPP Imagery:  Visible (0.64µm), Day Night Band (0.70µm) and near-IR (0.85µm) (click to enlarge)

Suomi-NPP Imagery: Visible (0.64µm), Day Night Band (0.70µm) and near-IR (0.86µm) images (click to enlarge)

Visible Imagery over the Great Lakes on Friday April 17th showed mostly open waters over the five lakes, with regions that could be ice confined to coastlines of Lakes Superior, Huron, Erie and Michigan. The animation above is of Suomi NPP VIIRS visible (0.64µm and 0.70µm) and near-infrared (0.86µm) data. Can you tell with certainty which of the white features over the lakes are clouds vs. ice?

Suomi-NPP Infrared Imagery (3.74 µm),  (click to enlarge)

Suomi-NPP Infrared Imagery (3.74 µm) (click to enlarge)

Infrared data can give clues. The 3.74 µm imagery, above, shows the brightness temperature. Note how the white regions over Lakes Superior, Michigan and Ontario are about the same temperature as the surrounding water. In contrast, white regions over Lakes Erie and Ontario are much darker (warmer) in the 3.74 µm than the surrounding water. This is testimony to the superior scattering abilities around 3.74 µm of water-based clouds compared to lake ice. More solar radiation scattered towards the satellite by the clouds means a warmer temperature is detected.

Suomi-NPP Imagery:  Toggle between Visible (0.64µm) and near-IR (1.61 µm) (click to enlarge)

Suomi-NPP Imagery: Visible (0.64µm) and near-IR (1.61 µm) (click to enlarge)

The 1.61 µm near-infrared channel is useful because ice strongly absorbs solar radiation at that wavelength, appearing dark. The toggle above, of visible (0.64) and near-infrared (1.61) neatly distinguishes between clouds and ice. Ice (dark in the 1.61 µm because it does not reflect; at that wavelength, it absorbs) is apparent over eastern Lake Superior, eastern and northern Lake Huron and some small bays in northern Lake Michigan. There is no ice apparent on Lakes Erie or Ontario: features there exhibit signatures which are white in both visible and at 1.61 µm.

Another method to aid in the discrimination of snow/ice vs supercooled water droplet clouds is the creation of Red/Green/Blue (RGB) products. The example below toggles between the 0.64 µm visible image and an RGB image (which uses the VIIRS 0.64 µm/1.61 µm/1.61 µm data as the R/G/B components) — snow cover and ice appear as darker shades of red on the RGB image (in contrast to supercooled water droplet clouds, which are brighter shades of white). The snow depth on the morning of 17 April was still 13 inches at Munising in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible and false-color RGB images (click to enlarge)

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible and false-color RGB images (click to enlarge)

On this day there was only 1 pass of the Landsat-8 satellite over any of the ice-covered portions of the Great Lakes; the 15-meter resolution panchromatic visible (0.59 µm) image below shows a very detailed view of the far western portion of the ice that was north of the Keweenaw Peninsula in Lake Superior (zoomed image).

Landsat-8 panchromatic visible (0.59 µm) image (click to enlarge)

Landsat-8 panchromatic visible (0.59 µm) image (click to enlarge)

Terra and Aqua both carry the MODIS sensor, and MODIS can detect radiation at 1.38 µm, a wavelength at which cirrus is highly reflective. A 1.38 µm image from the 17th, below, shows the horizontal extent of cirrus.

MODIS Imagery:  near-IR (1.38 µm) (click to enlarge)

MODIS Imagery: near-IR (1.38 µm) (click to enlarge)

Dust storm in southern Nevada and California

April 14th, 2015
GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images (click o play animation)

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

GOES-13 (GOES-East) 0.63 µm visible channel images (click image to play animation; also available as an MP4 movie file) showed the hazy signature of a cloud of thick blowing dust moving southward across southern Nevada and parts of southern California, along and behind a strong cold frontal boundary on 14 April 2015.

Areas where the dust cloud was more dense could be identified using the Terra and Aqua MODIS 11-12 µm IR brightness temperature difference (BTD) product (below). The 12 µm IR channel is no longer available on the imager instrument of the current series of GOES satellites — however, the ABI instrument on the upcoming GOES-R satellite will have a 12 µm IR channel, allowing the creation of such BTD products to aid in the identification and tracking of similar dust features.

Terra and Aqua MODIS 11-12 µm IR brightness temperature difference

Terra and Aqua MODIS 11-12 µm IR brightness temperature difference

At 1833 UTC, a pilot reported that the top of the dust cloud was at 11,500 feet near its leading edge (below). Farther to the south, strong winds interacting with the terrain were causing pockets of moderate to severe turbulence.

Terra MODIS 11-12 µm IR brightness temperature difference, with pilot reports

Terra MODIS 11-12 µm IR brightness temperature difference, with pilot reports

The blowing dust cloud was also evident on true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images from MODIS and VIIRS, as visualized using the SSEC RealEarth web map server (below).

MODIS and VIIRS true-color RGB images

MODIS and VIIRS true-color RGB images