Industrial and ship plumes in supercooled clouds

December 4th, 2018 |

MODIS and VIIRS

MODIS and VIIRS “Fog/stratus” BTD images [click to enlarge]

A sequence of nighttime MODIS and VIIRS “Fog/stratus” infrared Brightness Temperature Difference (BTD) images (above) revealed long plumes (darker shades of red) streaming southwestward for over 200 miles from their industrial point sources in the Mesabi Range of northeastern Minnesota on 03 December 2018.

During the subsequent daytime hours, a comparison of GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm), Near-Infrared “Cloud Particle Size” (2.24 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (below) showed signatures of these Mesabi Range plumes along with others emanating from industrial or power plant sources. A few ship tracks were also apparent across Lake Superior.

Particles emitted from the exhaust stacks at power plants and industrial sites (as well as ships) can act as efficient cloud condensation nuclei, which causes the formation of large numbers of supercooled water droplets having a smaller diameter than those found within the adjacent unperturbed supercooled clouds — and these smaller supercooled cloud droplets are better reflectors of incoming solar radiation, thereby appearing brighter in the Near-Infrared and warmer (darker gray) in the Shortwave Infrared images.

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm), Near-Infrared “Cloud Particle Size” (2.24 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

On the following night, another sequence of MODIS and VIIRS “Fog/stratus” infrared Brightness Temperature Difference (BTD) images (below) highlighted a number of industrial and power plant plumes across Minnesota, northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The curved shape of many of these plumes resulted from boundary layer winds shifting from northerly to westerly as the night progressed.

MODIS and VIIRS "Fog/stratus" BTD images [click to enlarge]

MODIS and VIIRS “Fog/stratus” BTD images [click to enlarge]

During the following daytime hours on 04 December, a comparison of VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images (below) showed 2 plume types across eastern Nebraska. There were several of the brighter/warmer plumes similar to those noted on the previous day across Minnesota/Wisconsin/Michigan — but one large plume originating from industrial sites just east of Norfolk (KOFK) had the effect of eroding the supercooled cloud deck via glaciation (initiated by the emission of particles that acted as efficient ice nuclei) and subsequent snowfall. This is similar to the process that creates aircraft “distrails” or “fall streak clouds” as documented here, here and here.

VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared

VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]


Farther to the east over Ohio and Pennsylvania, another example of the 2 plume types was seen (below) — one plume originating from an industrial site near Cleveland was glaciating/eroding the supercooled cloud and producing snowfall, while another bright/warm supercooled droplet plume was moving southeastward from a point source located west of Indiana County Airport KIDI.

The Cleveland plume was captured by an overpass of the Landsat-8 satellite, with a False Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) image viewed using RealEarth providing great detail with 30-meter resolution (below). A small “overshooting top” can even be seen above the industrial site southeast of Cleveland, with the swath of glaciated and eroding cloud extending downwind (to the southeast) from that point.

Landsat-8 False Color RGB image [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 False Color RGB image [click to enlarge]

Coincidentally, Landsat-8 also captured another example of a glaciating cloud plume downwind of the Flint Hills Oil Refinery south of St. Paul, Minnesota on 03 December (below). The erosion/glaciation of supercooled cloud extended as far south as Albert Lea, Minnesota. Similar to the Cleveland example, a small “overshooting top” was seen directly over the plume point source.

Landsat-8 False Color RGB image [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 False Color RGB image [click to enlarge]

===== 08 December Update =====

The effect of this industrial plume glaciating and eroding the supercooled water droplet clouds over northern Indiana was also seen in a comparison of Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images (below).

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Near-Infrared

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images [click to enlarge]

===== 09 December Update =====



During the following daytime hours, GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm), Near-Infrared “Cloud Particle Size” (2.24 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images (below) showed a number of plumes from industrial sites (many of which were likely refineries) streaming southeastward and eastward over the Gulf of Mexico on 09 December. Note the lack of a plume signature in the 10.3 µm imagery.
GOES-16 "Red" Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared "Snow/Ice" (1.61 µm), Near-Infrared "Cloud Particle Size" (2.24 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) and "Clean" Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm), Near-Infrared “Cloud Particle Size” (2.24 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

Tornado outbreak in Illinois

December 1st, 2018 |

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images, with SPC storm reports plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

The largest December tornado outbreak on record for the state of Illinois occurred on 01 December 2018 (NWS St. Louis | NWS Lincoln | NWS Quad Cities). 1-minute Mesoscale Domain Sector GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (above) showed the development of supercell convection which spawned the severe weather. in addition to the tornadoes, SPC Storm reports included hail as large as 1.75 inch in diameter and wind gusts of 75 mph.

GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images (below) showed that cloud-top infrared brightness temperatures were as cold as -55ºC (darker shades of orange) with the more vigorous thunderstorm overshooting tops.

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images, with SPC storm reports plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

Plots of 18 UTC and 00 UTC rawinsonde data from Lincoln, Illinois (below) indicated that the coldest overshooting top brightness temperature of -55ºC seen in GOES-16 Infrared imagery was representative of a height just above the calculated air parcel Most Unstabe (MU) Equilibrium Level (EL).

Plot of 00 UTC Lincoln, Illinois rawinsonde data [click to enlarge]

Plots of 18 UTC and 00 UTC rawinsonde data from Lincoln, Illinois [click to enlarge]

A sequence of MODIS (from Terra and Aqua) and VIIRS (from Suomi NPP and NOAA-20) Visible and Infrared images (below) provided 2 higher-resolution views of the pre-storm environment, plus 3 views during/following convective initiation. Unfortunately, the thunderstorms in Illinois were located along the far eastern edge of the instrument scans in the final 2 images.

Terra/Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP/NOAA-20 VIIRS Visible and Infrared images [click to enlarge]

Terra/Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP/NOAA-20 VIIRS Visible and Infrared images [click to enlarge]

Even though the convection in western Illinois was near the limb of NOAA-20 (mis-labelled as Suomi NPP) VIIRS swath at 2007 UTC — degrading the spatial resolution and introducing some parallax error — the coldest detected Infrared brightness temperature (-52C) was still several degrees colder than that detected by GOES-16 (below). The two images are displayed in different projections, but the enhancements use the same color-vs-temperature breakpoints.

Comparison of GOES-16 ABI and NOAA-20 VIIRS Infrared Window images at 2007 UTC [click to enlarge]

Comparison of GOES-16 ABI and NOAA-20 VIIRS Infrared Window images at 2007 UTC [click to enlarge]

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]

Eruption of Mount Veniaminof on the Alaska Peninsula

November 21st, 2018 |
GOES-17

GOES-17 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Split Window Difference (10.3-12.3 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

* GOES-17 images posted here are preliminary and non-operational *

Following an eruption of Mount Veniaminof on 21 November 2018, 1-minute Mesoscale Domain Sector GOES-17 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Split Window Difference (10.3-12.3 µm) images (above) showed the volcanic ash plume drifting southeastward over the Gulf of Alaska. During the period 1947-2323 UTC the plume was seen to grow to a length of 200 miles from the volcano summit. Note in the Visible imagery that the 2625 ft (800 m) volcano acted as a barrier to the northwesterly boundary layer winds to create a cloud-free “notch” immediately downwind of Veniaminof.

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB images viewed using RealEarth (below) highlighted the light brown color of the ash plume.

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB images [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB images [click to enlarge]

A sequence of retrieved Ash Probability, Ash Height and Ash Loading (source) derived from Terra/Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS data (below) indicated high probabilities of ash content, height values primarily in the 4-6 km range and ash loading exceeding 4 g/m3 at times.

Terra/Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS Ash Probability, Ash Height and Ash Loading images [click to play animation | MP4]

Terra/Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS Ash Probability, Ash Height and Ash Loading images [click to play animation | MP4]