Gulf Stream, and Autumn color

October 4th, 2006 |

AWIPS MODIS sea surface temperature
The AWIPS MODIS Sea Surface Temperature product (above) reveals the dramatic water temperature contrast associated with the Gulf Stream off the East Coast of the US on 04 October. Sea surface temperatures were as warm as 81 F (red enhancement) along the axis of the Gulf Stream off the coast of North Carolina, and as cold as 53 F (cyan enhancement) off the coast of New England and Nova Scotia. Mesoscale variability in the water temperatures are evident which are not well depicted by the Real-time Global Sea Surface Temperature (RTG_SST) analysis. The corresponding AWIPS MODIS visible image (below) shows a typical example of the narrow cumulus cloud lines (or “rope clouds”) that often form along the sharpest temperature gradient of the Gulf Stream axis (as well as along the periphery of some of the ocean circulation eddies) — the contrast in water temperatures acts as a differential heating boundary to focus marine boundary layer convergence and initiate subsequent formation of the narrow cumulus cloud features. A QuickTime animation of GOES-12 visible imagery shows that these rope clouds remained quasi-stationary during the course of the day.
AWIPS MODIS visible image

Closer to home, the Aqua MODIS true color image shows that the Autumn tree colors are reaching their peak across much of northern Wisconsin and the UP of Michigan.

Final day of GOES-10 SRSO

October 2nd, 2006 |

Beginning on 23 August, the GOES-10 satellite was placed into continuous Super Rapid Scan Operations (SRSO) mode, providing images at 1-minute intervals over a limited region of the US. 02 October was the final day of GOES-10 SRSO, and some of the interesting features that were apparent on the visible channel imagery included:

GOES-10 visible animation
(1) a distinct “aircraft dissipation trail” (10 MB QuickTime animation, above) running north-south through a patch of cloudiness located over northeastern Kansas. GOES-12 10.7 micrometer cloud top temperatures in that particular cloud feature were in the -25 to -35 C range, and GOES Sounder Cloud Top Heights were generally 25-30 Kft, suggestive of cirrus clouds that were likely composed of ice particles; the MODIS Cloud Phase product a few hours later did in fact indicate mostly ice phase in that area of cloudiness as it moved eastward across the Kansas/Missouri border region. Small particles in the aircraft exhaust may have acted as effective ice condensation nuclei, causing the cloud ice particles to grow and begin falling out of the cloud (creating the aircraft dissipation trail signature);
GOES-10 visible animation
(2) morning dissipation of valley fog (12 MB QuickTime animation, above) over parts of the central Appalachian Mountains region (map overlay);

GOES-10 visible animation
(3) development of severe convection over northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin (36 MB QuickTime animation, above) which produced numerous reports of heavy rain, hail, and damaging winds (SPC storm reports).