GOES-16 Mesoscale Sectors: improved monitoring of fire activity

March 19th, 2017 |

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, left) and GOES-13 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, right) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, left) and GOES-13 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, right) images [click to play MP4 animation]

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

The ABI instrument on GOES-16 is able to scan 2 Mesoscale Sectors, each of which provides images at 1-minute intervals. For what was likely a prescribed burn in the Francis Marion National Forest (near the coast of South Carolina) on 19 March 2017, a comparison of 1 minute Mesoscale Sector GOES-16 and 15-30 minute Routine Scan GOES-13 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above; also available as a 50 Mbyte animated GIF) demonstrated the clear advantage of 1-minute imagery in terms of monitoring the short-term intensity fluctuations that are often exhibited by fire activity. In this case,  the intensity of the fire began to increase during 15:15-15:45 UTC — a time period when there was a 30-minute gap in routine scan imagery from GOES-13. The GOES-16 shortwave infrared brightness temperature then became very hot (red enhancement) beginning at 15:46:58 UTC, which again was not captured by GOES-13 — even on the 16:00 UTC and later images (however, this might be due to the more coarse 4-km spatial resolution of GOES-13, compared to the 2-km resolution of the shortwave infrared band on GOES-16). Similar short-term intensity fluctuations of a smaller fire (burning just to the southwest) were not adequately captured by GOES-13.

The corresponding GOES-16 vs GOES-13 Visible image comparison (below; also available as a 72 Mbyte animated GIF) also showed the advantage of 1-minute scans, along with the improved 0.5-km spatial resolution of the 0.64 µm spectral band on GOES-16 (which allowed brief pulses of pyrocumulus clouds to be seen developing over the fire source region).

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm, left) and GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm, right) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm, left) and GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm, right) images [click to play MP4 animation]

 The rapid south-southeastward spread of the smoke plume could also be seen on true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images from Terra/Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS, as viewed using RealEarth (below).

Terra MODIS, Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS, Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color images [click to enlarge]

Grass fires in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas

March 6th, 2017 |

GOES-16 (left) and GOES-13 (right) 3.9 µm Shortwave Infrared images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 (left) and GOES-13 (right) 3.9 µm Shortwave Infrared images [click to play MP4 animation]

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

Widespread grass fires began to burn across parts of southwestern Kansas, northwestern Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle on 06 March 2017. The fires grew very quickly during the late morning and early afternoon hours, due to strong southwesterly winds (with gusts as high as 67 mph in Oklahoma)  behind a dryline (surface analyses); a cold front then moved southward across the region during the late afternoon and evening hours, bringing strong northerly/northwesterly winds. In a comparison shown above of Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images — 1-minute interval (Mesoscale Sector) 2-km resolution GOES-16 vs. 5-7 minute interval (Rapid Scan Operations) 4-km resolution GOES-13 (also available as a 204 Mbyte animated GIF) — a large fire (the Starbuck Fire) can be seen making a fast northeastward run from Oklahoma into Kansas behind the dryline; then, after the passage of the cold front, the leading edge of that and another large fire turned southward and moved from Kansas back into Oklahoma. Another large fire in the Texas Panhandle (the Perryton Fire) moved rapidly eastward and crossed the border into Oklahoma. At least 7 deaths have resulted from these fires (CNN).

===== 07 March Update =====

The large size of the grass fire burn scars could be seen in comparisons of true-color and false-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images from Terra MODIS (1732 UTC), Suomi NPP VIRS (1857 UTC) and Aqua MODIS (1912 UTC) images viewed using RealEarth (below).

Terra MODIS true-color and false-color images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS true-color and false-color images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color and false-color images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color and false-color images [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS true-color and false-color images [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS true-color and false-color images [click to enlarge]

The creation of true-color and false-color images such as these will be possible using the ABI spectral bands available on GOES-16 and the GOES-R series of satellites. A separate blog post highlighting other multi-spectral GOES-16 views of these fire burn scars on 07 March  is available here.

Storm “Doris” affects the British Isles

February 23rd, 2017 |

Meteosat-10 Water Vapor (6.25 µm) images, with hourly surface wind gusts in knots [click to play animation]

Meteosat-10 Water Vapor (6.25 µm) images, with hourly surface wind gusts in knots [click to play animation]

Storm “Doris” affected the British Isles on 23 February 2017, producing strong winds and heavy rainfall. The mid-latitude cyclone rapidly intensified from a central pressure of 1004 hPa at 12 UTC on 22 February to 972 hPa at 12 UTC on 23 February (surface analyses) . EUMETSAT Meteosat-10 Water Vapor (6.25 µm) images (above) exhibited the “scorpion tail” signature of a sting jet (Monthly Weather Review | Wikipedia), and surface wind gusts included 58 knots at Dublin, 64 knots at Wittering and 69 knots at Valley.

The corresponding daylight Meteosat-10 High Resolution Visible (0.8 µm) images (below) revealed better detail of the various cloud structures associated with the storm.

Meteosat-10 High Resolution Visible (0.8 µm) images, with hourly surface wind gusts in knots [click to play animation]

Meteosat-10 High Resolution Visible (0.8 µm) images, with hourly surface wind gusts in knots [click to play animation]

True-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images from Terra/Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS visualized using RealEarth are shown below. EUMETSAT posted a natural-color RGB animation here.

Terra MODIS (1039 UTC), Aqua MODIS (1226 UTC) and Suomi NPP VIIRS (1248 UTC) true-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS (1039 UTC), Aqua MODIS (1226 UTC) and Suomi NPP VIIRS (1248 UTC) true-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Northeast US winter storm

February 9th, 2017 |

GOES-13 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images, with surface fronts and MSLP pressure [click to play animation]

GOES-13 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images, with surface fronts and MSLP pressure [click to play animation]

A strong winter storm impacted much of the Northeast US on 09 February 2017, dropping up to 24 inches of snow in Maine and producing wind gusts of 70 mph in Massachusetts (WPC storm summary). GOES-13 (GOES-East) Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images with surface fronts and Mean Sea Level Pressure (above) showed the rapid intensification of the mid-latitude cyclone.

GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images, with hourly surface weather symbols [click to play animation]

GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images, with hourly surface weather symbols [click to play animation]

GOES-13 Visible images (above) and Water Vapor images (below) with hourly surface weather symbols revealed the extent of thunderstorms in the south and heavy snow in the north. A number of sites in New England also reported thundersnow.

GOES-13 Water Vapor (6.5 Âm) images, with hourly surface weather symbols [click to play animation]

GOES-13 Water Vapor (6.5 Âm) images, with hourly surface weather symbols [click to play animation]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and infrared Window (11.45 µm) images (below) provided a high-resolution snapshot of the storm at 1708 UTC. Note the areas of banded convective elements both south of the storm center over the Atlantic, and also inland over parts of New England.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images, with surface fronts and MSLP [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images, with surface fronts and MSLP [click to enlarge]

===== 10 February Update =====

Terra and Aqua MODIS false-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Terra and Aqua MODIS false-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

As the storm moved northward over Newfoundland and Labrador in eastern Canada on 10 February, a toggle between Terra (1601 UTC) and Aqua (1743 UTC) MODIS false-color “snow/cloud discrimination” Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images (above) showed the extent of the snow cover (darker shades of red), although supercooled water droplet clouds (shades of white) persisted over many areas at the times of the 2 images. Glaciated ice crystal clouds also appeared as shades of red.

Snowfall totals in the Canadian Maritimes were as high as 38 cm (15 inches).