Hawai’i demonstrates that the Water Vapor channel is an Infrared channel

April 6th, 2015 |
GOES-15 6.5 µm water vapor channel images (click to play animation)

GOES-15 6.5 µm water vapor channel images (click to play animation)

GOES-15 (GOES-West) 6.5 µm “water vapor channel” images (above; click image to play animation; also available as an MP4 movie file) revealed an interesting transition in the signal displayed by the 2 summits (Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa) on the Big Island of Hawai’i on 06 April 2015 — beginning as a pair of colder (darker blue color enhancement) areas during the nighttime hours, becoming a pair of warmer (brighter yellow color enhancement) areas as daytime heating warmed the land surfaces.

As was discussed in a previous blog post, the water vapor channel is essentially an Infrared (IR) channel that senses the mean temperature of a layer of moisture — usually a layer which is located in the middle troposphere. However, if the middle troposphere is dry, the water vapor detectors are able to “see” lower into the atmosphere and detect radiation from the lower atmosphere (or even high-elevation terrain features, such as Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa). A comparison of the 00 UTC and 12 UTC rawinsonde profiles from Hilo (below) showed that the middle troposphere was indeed quite dry, with the typical tropical moisture residing below the 700 hPa pressure level.

Hilo, Hawai'i rawinsonde data profiles (00, 12 UTC)

Hilo, Hawai’i rawinsonde data profiles (00, 12 UTC)

The altitude (and depth) of the layer being sensed by a water vapor channel is defined by its weighting function, which depends on (1) the temperature and moisture profile of the atmosphere, and (2) the satellite viewing angle or “zenith angle”. This site allows you to select a rawinsonde site of interest, and the GOES Imager (and Sounder) water vapor channel weighting functions are calculated and plotted. The GOES-15 Imager water vapor channel weighting functions for the 2 Hilo soundings are shown below (along with the weighting function for the US Standard Atmosphere). It can be seen that the peak of the weighting function response is at a lower altitude for both Hilo soundings than it would be for the US Standard Atmosphere, which in part allows the strong cold/warm thermal signatures of the two Big Island summits to be seen on the GOES-15 water vapor imagery.

Hilo, Hawai'i GOES-15 imager water vapor weighting functions, compared with the US Standard Atmosphere

Hilo, Hawai’i GOES-15 imager water vapor weighting functions, compared with the US Standard Atmosphere

Major sandstorm in the Arabian Peninsula

April 2nd, 2015 |
Visible satellite images and surface observations (click to play animation)

Visible satellite images and surface observations (click to play animation)

Visible satellite images from the SSEC RealEarth web map server (above; click image to play animation) revealed the hazy light gray signature of a major sandstorm that was advancing south-southeastward across the Arabian Peninsula on 02 April 2015. An Aqua MODIS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image (actual satellite overpass time was 10:20 UTC or 2:20 PM local time) is shown below — the dense cloud of airborne sand appeared as a lighter shade of tan.

Aqua MODIS true-color image

Aqua MODIS true-color image

A Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color image from the previous day (below) depicted the beginning phase of the sandstorm in the northern portion of Saudi Arabia, which consisted of a number of smaller plumes of blowing sand prior to consolidating into the large feature seen on 02 April.

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color image (01 April)

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color image (01 April)

The blowing sand reduced surface visibility to near zero at some locations, disrupting ground transportation, air traffic, and also closing schools. Visibility was reduced to 0.1 mile for several hours at Dubai International Airport (below), which is one of the world’s busiest in terms of volume of flights.

Time series of weather conditions at Dubai International Airport

Time series of weather conditions at Dubai International Airport

During the previous nighttime hours, McIDAS-V images of Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band data (below; images courtesy of William Straka, SSEC) showed the arc-shaped leading edge of the sandstorm as it stretched from the United Arab Emirates across Saudi Arabia at 22:01 UTC or 1:01 AM local time. Since the Moon was in the Waxing Gibbous phase (at 98% of Full), it provided ample illumination for these “visible images at night”.

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band image

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band image

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band image

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band image

Typhoon Maysak in the West Pacific Ocean

March 30th, 2015 |
Himawari-8 AHI 0.64 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

Himawari-8 AHI 0.64 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

McIDAS-V images of Himawari-8 AHI 0.64 µm visible channel data (above; click image to play animation; images courtesy of William Straka, SSEC) showed the evolution of Category 2 Typhoon Maysak over the West Pacific Ocean on 30 March 2015. A number of large convective bursts can be seen surrounding the eye, along with more subtle features such as transverse banding.

An 11:01 UTC MTSAT-2 10.8 µm IR image with an overlay of 11:11 UTC Metop ASCAT surface scatterometer winds from the CIMSS Tropical Cyclones site (below) revealed the wind field in the eastern semicircle of the tropical cyclone.

MTSAT-2 10.8 µm IR image with Metop ASCAT surface scatterometer winds

MTSAT-2 10.8 µm IR image with Metop ASCAT surface scatterometer winds

Several hours later, a comparison of a 19:01 UTC MTSAT-2 10.8 µm IR image with a 19:00 UTC DMSP SSMIS 85 GHz microwave image (below) showed that the microwave instrument was able to “see” through the clouds surrounding the eye to depict the larger size of the eyewall structure.

MTSAT-2 10.8 µm IR image + DMSP SSMIS 85 GHz microwave image

MTSAT-2 10.8 µm IR image + DMSP SSMIS 85 GHz microwave image

During the later hours of 30 March, Typhoon Maysak underwent a period of rapid intensification from a Category 2 to a Category 4 storm, as depicted on a plot of the Advanced Dvorak Technique (ADT) intensity estimate (below). Rapid intensification occurred as the tropical cyclone was moving over an area of relatively high ocean heat content.

Advanced Dvorak Technique (ADT) intensity estimate plot for Typhoon Maysak

Advanced Dvorak Technique (ADT) intensity estimate plot for Typhoon Maysak

MTSAT-2 10.8 µm IR channel images during this period of rapid intensification are shown below (click image to play animation).

MTSAT-2 10.8 µm IR images (click to play animation)

MTSAT-2 10.8 µm IR images (click to play animation)

The MIMIC Total Precipitable Water (TPW) product (below; click image to play animation) depicted TPW values in excess of 60 mm or 2.36 inches (darker red color enhancement) associated with Maysak as the tropical cyclone moved between the islands of Guam (PGUM) and Yap (PTYA). Yap recorded over 4 inches of rainfall.

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water product (click to play animation)

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water product (click to play animation)

31 March 2015 Update: Maysak intensified to a Category 5 Super Typhoon (ADT plot). Full-resolution visible imagery from Himawari-8 AHI is shown below; a faster animation is available here. A number of mesovortices could be seen within the eye of Maysak; these mesovortices were also evident in photos of the eye of the typhoon taken by an astronaut on the International Space Station, as posted on Twitter here and here.

Himawari-8 AHI 0.64 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

Himawari-8 AHI 0.64 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

Images from all 16 channels from the Himawari-8 AHI can be combined into one animation, showing the different information provided by each of the spectral bands — such an animation is shown below, using data from 0600 UTC on 31 March 2015. The Infrared data is shown at full (2-km) resolution; Visible/near Infrared imagery is scaled down by a factor of 2 (0.46 µm, 0.51 µm, 0.85 µm) or by a factor of 4 (0.64 µm). A similar animation, but without annotation or color enhancement, is available here.

Himawari-8 AHI images for all 16 channels at 0600 UTC (click to enlarge)

Himawari-8 AHI images for all 16 channels at 0600 UTC (click to enlarge)

Maysak had remained in an environment of relatively low deep-layer wind shear (below; click image to play animation), which was favorable for its trend of continued intensification.

MTSAT-2 10.8 µm IR channel images, with deep-layer wind shear (click to play animation)

MTSAT-2 10.8 µm IR channel images, with deep-layer wind shear (click to play animation)

However, in a comparison of MTSAT-2 10.8 µm IR channel and TRMM TMI 85 GHz microwave images around 14 UTC (below), it can be seen that the microwave image indicated that an eyewall replacement cycle might be underway (which would suggest a subsequent decrease in the typhoon’s intensity within the coming hours). This was supported by the ADT intensity estimate plot, which dropped the intensity of Maysak just below 140 knots after 18 UTC on 31 March.

MTSAT-2 10.7 µm IR image and TRMM TMI 85 GHz microwave image

MTSAT-2 10.7 µm IR image and TRMM TMI 85 GHz microwave image

01 April Update: A nighttime comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band and 11.45 µm IR images at 16:58 UTC on 01 April (below; images courtesy of William Straka, SSEC) showed the eye of Typhoon Maysak after it had weakened to a Category 4 storm.

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band and 11.45 µm IR channel images

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band and 11.45 µm IR channel images

Extratropical Cyclogenesis over the western Pacific

March 30th, 2015 |
Himawari-8 AHI 0.64 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

Himawari-8 AHI 0.64 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

The AHI Instrument on Himawari-8 has 16 different channels sensing the atmosphere. The instrument is still in Post-Launch Testing, a period when instrument performance is monitored and adjusted. Extratropical cyclogenesis that occurred east of Japan on 30 March was captured by the different channels.

The 0.64 µm visible imagery, above, is the highest-resolution channel on AHI, with nominal 0.5-km resolution at the subsatellite point. The imagery above — at 1.5 km resolution and every 10 minutes — shows the development of an extratropical cyclone east of the main island of Japan (visible at the left edge of the imagery). Thin cirrus is spreading north of the storm and convection is developing both in the cool air north of the surface circulation center and along the cold front that is just to the west of the cirrus shield associated with the warm conveyor belt. Northerly surface winds north of the system and southern surface winds south of the system speak to the strengthening of the frontal boundary along which the storm is developing.

Himawari-8 AHI 0.85 µm infrared channel images (click to play animation)

Himawari-8 AHI 0.85 µm infrared channel images (click to play animation)

The 0.85 µm imagery, above, is in the near-infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum, at wavelengths just a bit longer than red visible light (which is at 0.7 µm). It does an excellent job highlighting the land/water contrast (because bodies of water strongly absorb 0.85 µm solar radiation and land and clouds reflects it). This channel also is sensitive to vegetation. The larger-scale view shows jetstream cirrus south and southwest of the developing storm and an occluded system decaying to the east of Kamchatka.

The 0.46 µm imagery, below, is in the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum, and is quite sensitive to aerosols (Click here for a fact sheet on ABI’s 0.46 µm “Blue Band”; fact sheets for all ABI Bands will be here in the future). The smog and pollution that surrounds Tokyo is more apparent in this imagery. Smog is also indicated near Osaka and Nagoya. A toggle between 0.64 µm, 0.46 µm and 0.85 µm imagery, here, from 30 March 2015 at 0000 UTC allows a comparison of the imagery.

Himawari-8 AHI 0.46 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

Himawari-8 AHI 0.46 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

The 1.60 µm imagery on AHI is useful because it can distinguish between clouds with water droplets (that scatter and reflect solar 1.60 µm radiation very effectively) and clouds with ice crystals (that absorb 1.60 µm radiation). In a standard enhancement, clouds with ice crystals appear grey, clouds with water droplets appear white. In the animation below, the glaciated cirrus canopy of the warm conveyor belt is readily apparent. Note also how the convection developing along the warm front has glaciated by the end of the animation.

Himawari-8 AHI 1.60 µm infrared channel images (click to play animation)

Himawari-8 AHI 1.60 µm infrared channel images (click to play animation)

The 3.9 µm on Himawari-8 provide detailed information about the sea surface temperature if clouds are not present, as was the case over the Kuroshio Current just east of Japan on 30 October. The animation below shows little change over 2 hours, as expected, except along the north wall of the current. Brightness Temperatures drop 10 C across the temperature gradient at the north end of the current.

Himawari-8 AHI 3.90 µm infrared channel images (click to play animation)

Himawari-8 AHI 3.90 µm infrared channel images (click to play animation)