Suomi NPP VIIRS Sea Surface Temperature product flowing into AWIPS

March 21st, 2014 |
Suomi NPP Sea Surface Temperature product, 0727 UTC 21 March 2014

Suomi NPP Sea Surface Temperature product, 0727 UTC 21 March 2014

Suomi NPP VIIRS data are being used to compute sea-surface temperature (SST), and those fields are now being input into AWIPS for evaluation. The Suomi NPP images as displayed in AWIPS are labeled as MODIS SSTs (this was done to speed the injection process into AWIPS; however, note that the labels on VIIRS images for this blog post were modified to display the correct satellite source). Even though the labels are the same (both MODIS and VIIRS products are labeled “MODIS Sea Sfc Temperature” in AWIPS), the data sources are different, and the user can learn to identify the data being used.

A user can match the time of the image to overpass times for the Aqua, Terra or Suomi NPP satellites. Overlaying a different Suomi NPP image, for example 11.45 µm IR brightness temperature, below, that covers the same geographic region will also tell the user which data source — from VIIRS or MODIS — is being used to construct the SST product.

VIIRS-based SSTs and 11.45 µm IR brightness temperatures (click to enlarge)

VIIRS-based SSTs and 11.45 µm IR brightness temperatures (click to enlarge)

A MODIS-based SST from approximately the same time is shown below. The VIIRS swath is much wider than the MODIS swath. This will always be true.

MODIS and VIIRS-based SSTs at ~0805 UTC 20 February 2014 (click to enlarge)

MODIS and VIIRS-based SSTs at ~0730 UTC 21 March 2014 (click to enlarge)

Values for MODIS SSTs and VIIRS SSTs are similar. In general, the cloud-clearing with Suomi NPP VIIRS is more accurate, meaning there are more clear pixels with the Suomi NPP data and therefore more SST pixels. Note in particular differences in the strong temperature gradient along the edges of the Gulf Stream where MODIS algorithms mistakenly flag pixels as cloudy.

[Added: This animation cycles through the SSTs and the Window Channel IR images from both VIIRS and MODIS]

2 days earlier, a nighttime/daytime Suomi NPP VIIRS SST comparison on 19 March — magnified to provide a closer look at the Gulf of Mexico (below) — revealed intricate structure associated with the Loop Curent (the large darker red feature, with SST values around 80º F), as well as other small-scale eddys in the surrounding Gulf waters.

Suomi NPP VIIRS SST images at 08:03 UTC and 19:27 UTC on 19 March

Suomi NPP VIIRS SST images at 08:03 UTC and 19:27 UTC on 19 March

Widespread blowing dust across the south-central US

March 18th, 2014 |
GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

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

McIDAS images of GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel data (above; click image to play animation) showed two very large blowing dust features during the afternoon hours on 18 March 2014: one moving southward out of southeastern Colorado, and another moving eastward out of New Mexico across Texas and Oklahoma. Winds gusted to 75 mph in southeastern Colorado, and 60 mph in the Texas Panhandle; surface visibilities were reduced to near zero at times at some locations. As a result, some highways were closed in southeastern Colorado. Another significant blowing dust event had impacted much of this same region one week earlier.

GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images with METAR surface reports (click to play animation)

GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images with METAR surface reports (click to play animation)

Taking a closer look at the large southward-moving dust plume with AWIPS images of GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel data (above; click image to play animation) and GOES-13 3.9 µm shortwave IR channel data (below; click image to play animation), it can be seen that a large wildfire began to burn around 19:15 UTC (2:15 PM local time) near the Texas/Oklahoma border as the strong winds associated with the leading edge of the dust storm moved through. The hot fire (yellow to red to black pixels on the shortwave IR images) produced pyrocumulus clouds and a smoke plume that rose above the top of the dust layer, high enough to cast a shadow due to the low sun angle at the end of the day. Note from the distance scale on the lower left portion of the visible images that this “wall of dust” was at least 300 miles wide.

GOES-13 3.9 µm shortwave IR images with METAR surface reports (click to play animation)

GOES-13 3.9 µm shortwave IR images with METAR surface reports (click to play animation)

The CLAVR-x POES AVHRR Cloud Top Height product (below) indicated that the top of the southward-moving dust layer was generally 1-2 km above ground level (cyan to light green color enhancement).

POES AVHRR Cloud Top Height product

POES AVHRR Cloud Top Height product

Terra and Aqua MODIS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images visualized using the SSEC RealEarth web map server (below) revealed that the composition of the dust from the 2 source regions took on a different appearance, indicating that the nature and composition of the aerosols were different.

Terra and Aqua MODIS true-color RGB images

Terra and Aqua MODIS true-color RGB images

AWIPS images of the Terra and Aqua MODIS “reverse absorption” 11-12 µm IR brightness temperature difference product (below) offered another method of identifying the areas where the airborne dust was the most dense.

Terra and Aqua MODIS 12.0-11.0 µm IR brightness temperature difference product

Terra and Aqua MODIS 12.0-11.0 µm IR brightness temperature difference product

Additional satellite images from this event can be found on the Wide World of SPoRT and RAMMB: GOES-R Proving Ground Blog sites.

===== 19 March Update =====

IDEA-I forecast aerosol trajectories (click to play animation)

IDEA-I forecast aerosol trajectories (click to play animation)

The IDEA-I MODIS Aerosol Optical Depth product indicated that much of the airborne dust remained over southern and eastern Texas on 19 March. Forecast forward trajectories (above; click image to play animation) suggested that some of this dust would get recirculated back northward across western Texas, and eventually move over Kansas in 24-48 hours.

Blowing dust from Baja California

March 16th, 2014 |
GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

McIDAS images of GOES-15 (GOES-West) 0.63 µm visible channel data (above; click image to play animation) revealed large plumes of blowing dust and sand, which were moving south/southwestward from the coast of Baja California and western Mexico on 16 March 2014. There were no surface observations in the immediate vicinity of the Baja California dust plume source regions, but farther to the southeast at Loreta (station identifier MMLT) winds gusted to 37 knots or 43 mph at 19 UTC (12 Noon local time), and surface visibility was reduced to 3 miles. Surface winds were likely channelled by the upstream mountainous terrain to reach higher speeds near the dust plume source regions.

A comparison of AWIPS images of Aqua MODIS 0.65 µm visible, 1.38 µm “cirrus detection”, 3.7 µm shortwave IR, 11.0 µm “IR window”, and 6.7 µm water vapor channel data at 21:40 UTC (below) showed the following: (1) the dust/sand plume could also be seen on the 1.38 µm “cirrus detection channel” image, since this channel can be used to identify any airborne particles that are effective scatterers of light (such as cirrus ice crystals, volcanic ash, haze, or dust/sand); (2) while there was no obvious dust/sand signal on the conventional IR window channel image, the much warmer (darker black) signature on the shortwave IR image was due to reflection of incoming solar radiation off the dust/sand particles; (3) on the water vapor image, an undular bore appeared to be developing near the leading edge of the dust/sand plume. According to 1-hour interval MADIS satellite-derived atmospheric motion vectors (green wind barbs), the plumes were moving toward the southwest at speeds as fast as 25 knots at the time.

Aqua MODIS 0.65 µm visible, 1.38 µm cirrus channel, 3.7 µm shortwave IR, 11.0 µm IR, and 6.7 µm water vapor channel images

Aqua MODIS 0.65 µm visible, 1.38 µm cirrus channel, 3.7 µm shortwave IR, 11.0 µm IR, and 6.7 µm water vapor channel images

Metop ASCAT surface scatterometer winds (cyan wind barbs) at 17:43 UTC (below) indicated that winds were northeasterly at speeds around 20 knots just off the western coast of Baja California; 18 UTC GOES-15 satellite-derived winds (green wind barbs) tracked the southwestward motion of the dust plumes at speeds of 20-31 knots.

GOES-15 0.63 µm visible image with GOES-15 satellite-derived winds and Metop ASCAT surface scatterometer winds

GOES-15 0.63 µm visible image with GOES-15 satellite-derived winds and Metop ASCAT surface scatterometer winds

A sequence of true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images from Terra MODIS, Suomi NPP VIIRS, and Aqua MODIS viewed using the SSEC RealEarth web map server (below) showed the southwestward progression of the tan-colored dense plumes of airborne dust/sand from Baja California. In the initial Terra MODIS image, the source region of many of the plumes appeared to be near the El Vizcaíno Biosphere Reserve.

Terra MODIS, Suomi NPP VIIRS, and Aqua MODIS true-color RGB images

Terra MODIS, Suomi NPP VIIRS, and Aqua MODIS true-color RGB images

Fog and stratus along the California coast

March 14th, 2014 |

In their Area Forecast Discussion issued at 11:57 UTC or 4:57 AM local time on 14 March 2014, the NWS San Francisco/Monterey Bay Area forecast office mentioned the Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band imagery which showed the coverage of coastal fog in their area of responsibility:

AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA
457 AM PDT FRI MAR 14 2014

.DISCUSSION...AS OF 4:10 AM PDT FRIDAY...THE DRY TAIL END OF A
WEATHER SYSTEM MOVING IN TO THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST IS APPROACHING
OUR DISTRICT...AND RESULTING IN ENHANCEMENT OF THE MARINE LAYER
AND A RETURN OF THE MARINE STRATUS. LATEST GOES FOG PRODUCT
IMAGERY...AND IN RATHER SPECTACULAR DETAIL JUST REC`D SUOMI VIIRS
NIGHTTIME HIGH RES VISUAL IMAGE...SHOW COVERAGE ALONG MUCH OF THE
COAST FROM PT REYES SOUTH TO THE VICINITY OF THE MONTEREY
PENINSULA...AND A BROAD SWATH EXTENDING INLAND ACROSS SAN
FRANCISCO AND THROUGH THE GOLDEN GATE TO THE EAST BAY. LATEST
BODEGA BAY AND FT ORD PROFILER DATA INDICATE A MARINE LAYER DEPTH
OF ABOUT 1300 FT. SOME THIN HIGH CLOUDS ARE ALSO PASSING THROUGH ABOVE.

A comparison of AWIPS images of the Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band (DNB) and the corresponding 11.45-3.74 µm IR brightness temperature difference (BTD) “fog/stratus product” (below) showed this band of fog and stratus at 09:39 UTC or 2:39 AM local time. With ample illumination by moonlight (the Moon was in the Waxing Gibbous phase, at 97% of full), the DNB image served as a “visible image at night” to help highlight the fog/stratus features along the coast. Farther inland over the eastern portion of the satellite scene, the bright signature of deep snow cover in the higher elevations of the Sierra Nevada was also very evident on the DNB image.

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band and IR BTD "Fog/stratus product" images

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band and IR BTD “Fog/stratus product” images

A sequence of three 1-km resolution IR BTD images (below) — Terra MODIS at 06:33 UTC, Suomi NPP VIIRS at 09:39 UTC, and Aqua MODIS at 10:44 UTC — offered detailed views of the inland progression of the fog/stratus features, especially in the San Francisco Bay area and also down the Salinas Valley. The appearance of degraded resolution of the features seen on the 10:44 UTC MODIS image is due to the so-called “bow-tie effect” near the edge of a MODIS scan swath — even with a bow-tie correction algorithm applied, the MODIS images tend to look less crisp and clear along the scan edges.

Terra MODIS, Suomi NPP VIIRS, and Aqua MODIS IR BTD "fog/stratus product" images

Terra MODIS, Suomi NPP VIIRS, and Aqua MODIS IR BTD “fog/stratus product” images

A GOES-R “Cloud Thickness – Highest Liquid Cloud Layer” product created using GOES-15 data (below; click image to play animation) showed the southward advancement of the band of fog/stratus during the overnight hours. The maximum thickness displayed was in excess of 1200 ft (lighter cyan color enhancement), which agreed well with the profiler depths mentioned in the NWS forecast discussion above.

GOES-15 Cloud Thickness product (click to play animation)

GOES-15 Cloud Thickness product (click to play animation)

Additional GOES-R products such as Marginal Visual Flight Rules (MVFR), Instrument Flight Rules (IFR), and Low Instrument Flight Rules (LIFR) Probability are shown below. These products help to better quantify the potential aviation impacts that features seen on the conventional BTD “fog/stratus product” might have.

GOES-15 MVFR Probability product (click to play animation)

GOES-15 MVFR Probability product (click to play animation)

GOES-15 IFR Probability product (click to play animation)

GOES-15 IFR Probability product (click to play animation)

GOES-15 LIFR Probability product (click to play animation)

GOES-15 LIFR Probability product (click to play animation)

For additional information on this event, see the GOES-R Fog Product Examples blog.