Plume of wildfire smoke from British Columbia

March 25th, 2019 |

GOES-17

GOES-17 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Low-level Water Vapor (7.3 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 (GOES-West) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Low-level Water Vapor (7.3 µm) images (above) showed a northeasterly flow (model analyses) off the coast of British Columbia, Canada on 25 March 2019. Contained within this offshore flow was a hazy plume moving over Haida Gwaii and out across the eastern Pacific Ocean.

This aerosol plume was more easily seen in GOES-17 True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images from the AOS site (below).

GOES-17 True Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 True Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

In comparisons between VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) from Suomi NPP at 2104 UTC and NOAA-20 at 2154 UTC (below), the portion of the plume where aerosols were most dense (and therefore more reflective) was better portrayed in the Day/Night Band images.

VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) from Suomi NPP at 2104 UTC and NOAA-20 at 2154 UTC [click to enlarge]

VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) from Suomi NPP at 2104 UTC and NOAA-20 at 2154 UTC [click to enlarge]

Similarly, the portion of this plume having a higher aerosol concentration was highlighted using Terra MODIS Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.61 µm) imagery (below). The corresponding MODIS Water Vapor (6.7 µm) image showed that while the plume was generally contained within a ribbon of drier air, a narrow tongue of moisture existed within the core of the band of dry air. Both the VIIRS and the MODIS imagery indicated that the plume was passing over Sandspit (surface identifier CYZP), where the surface visibility briefly dropped to 7 miles at 21 UTC during a short period of northwesterly winds.

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Near-Infrared

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.61 µm) and Water Vapor (6.7 µm) images at 1936 UTC [click to enlarge]

A toggle between the 2015 UTC Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB image and Aerosol Optical Depth product as viewed using RealEarth (below) also showed the plume was passing over station CYZP on Haida Gwaii. Note that there were a few VIIRS fire detection points (red dots) in central British Columbia — which suggests that this aerosol plume was likely smoke from biomass burning.

Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB image and Aerosol Optical Depth product at 2015 UTC [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB image and Aerosol Optical Depth product at 2015 UTC [click to enlarge]

Regarding the moisture gradient seen on the MODIS Water Vapor image, it is interesting to examine 3 adjacent closely-spaced NUCAPS soundings immediately south of CYZP (below). The Total Precipitable Water values increased from 0.18″ to 0.26″ within a distance of only 60 miles.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) image, with available NUCAPS locations [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) image, with available NUCAPS locations [click to enlarge]

NUCAPS profiles at Points 1, 2 and 3 [click to enlarge]

NUCAPS profiles at Points 1, 2 and 3 [click to enlarge]