GOES-16: wildfires in southern California

July 8th, 2017 |

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with hourly surface plots [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with hourly surface plots [click to play MP4 animation]

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

As southern California experienced a record-setting heatwave, 2 large wildfires were burning in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties on 08 July 2017: the Alamo Fire and the Whittier Fire. GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above) showed the smoke plumes and hot spots (red pixels) associated with these 2 fires.

The dense smoke plumes also exhibited a signature on the Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.37 µm) images (below), even though they were not composed of ice crystals (note that 10.3 µm Infrared Window brightness temperatures of the smoke plumes were warmer than -20º C, cyan color enhancement, the entire day). This example demonstrates that in a dry atmosphere, the “Cirrus” imagery will also be able to detect the presence of any airborne particles that are efficient scatterers of light (which includes smoke, dust and volcanic ash).

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm, left), Near-Infrared Cirrus (1.38 µm, center) and Infrared Window (10.3 µm, right) images, with station identifiers plotted in yellow [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm, left), Near-Infrared Cirrus (1.37 µm, center) and Infrared Window (10.3 µm, right) images, with station identifiers plotted in yellow [click to play MP4 animation]

During  the nighttime prior to sunrise, with the benefit of ample illumination from a Full Moon, a long smoke plume streaming southwestward from the Alamo Fire was clearly seen on Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) imagery at 0910 UTC or 2:10 am local time (below). A very bright glow — larger than that of some nearby city lights — was co-located with the large hot spot on the corresponding Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) image.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) images [click to enlarge]