True-color RGB images from Terra MODIS, Suomi NPP VIIRS and Aqua MODIS, viewed using RealEarth (below) revealed the long ash plume during the late morning and early afternoon on 25 March. The dark signature of ash fall onto the snow-covered terrain was evident on the Terra and Aqua images, just west of the high-altitude ash plume.26 March Update: a closer view of Terra MODIS true-color images from 25 and 26 March (below) showed that the perimeter of the darker gray surface ash fall signature had fanned out in both the west and east directions. ]]>
The visible animation from late afternoon over west Texas, above, shows a characteristic signature of a shroud of dust around El Paso, TX behind a dryline associated with a developing cyclone in the lee of the Rocky Mountains. This pall of dust was visible in many of the 16 channels on the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) that sits on GOES-16. The toggle below cycles through the Red visible (0.64 µm), the Blue visible (0.47 µm), the Cirrus channel (1.38 µm), the Snow/ice channel (1.61 µm) and the Upper-Level and Lower-Level water vapor channels (6.19 µm and 7.34 µm, respectively) (Click here for a faster image toggle). In addition, a 2-panel comparison of GOES-16 Visible and Cirrus band imagery is available here.Several aspects of the toggle above bear comment. Note that the blue channel (0.47 µm) has in general a ‘hazier’ appearance than the 0.64 µm red channel. Atmospheric scattering is more important at shorter wavelengths, and that is picked up by the satellite. The 1.38 µm ‘Cirrus’ Channel generally does not see the surface because of water vapor absorption at that wavelength. However, the atmosphere behind the dry line is sufficiently parched (total Precipitable Water in the El Paso sounding on 0000 UTC 24 March is less than 6 mm; sounding from this site) that complete attenuation by water vapor is not occurring; dust is highly reflective at 1.38 µm and a signal becomes apparent in the dry air from west Texas southwestward into central Mexico.
Thin dust is very difficult to detect in the 1.61 µm snow/ice channel because solar energy at that wavelength reflected from the surface moves unimpeded through thin dust; thus you can generally see the surface in dusty regions in the 1.61 µm channel. On this date the 1.61 µm channel nimbly discriminated between water clouds (over central Mexico) and ice clouds (over much of the rest of the domain, as shown in this toggle between 0.64 µm and 1.61 µm : only the clouds composed of water are reflective (white) in both channels.
The atmosphere was sufficiently dry on this date that the lower-level (7.34 µm) water vapor channel detected surface features (horizontal convective rolls) associated with the blowing dust. (click here for the 6.19 µm image; surface features are not so apparent). Weighting functions computed at those wavelengths show a significant contribution from the surface at 7.4 µm (the red line), and also at 7.0 µm, (the green line), so the mid-level water vapor imagery from GOES-16 likely also shows surface influences); the 6.5 µm weighting function (the blue line) does not extend to the surface (These GOES-13 Sounder Weighting Functions that are similar to those from the GOES-16 ABI are from this site) so it’s unlikely that the 6.19 µm imagery shows surface features.
The GOES-R Website has fact sheets on the 0.47 µm, 0.64 µm, 1.38 µm, 1.61 µm, 6.19 µm and 7.34 µm channels.
Added: The RAMSDIS GOES-16 Loop of the Day from 23 March showed the Dust RGB product.]]>
GOES-16 Visible imagery captured the erosion of near-surface clouds over Ohio on 21 March 2017. A benefit of the routine 5-minute imagery is that it allows better estimates of exactly when the low clouds will clear out. There is ample suggestion in the animation above of the presence of cirrus clouds. The GOES-16 ABI has a channel at 1.38 µm that is specifically designed to detect cirrus clouds because that is a region in the electromagnetic spectrum where strong water vapor absorption occurs. The animation of ‘cirrus channel’ imagery, below, confirms the presence of widespread cirrus clouds.The MODIS instrument also has a similar near-infrared Cirrus spectral band — and a comparison of Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) and Cirrus (1.375 µm) images at 1601 UTC is shown below. ]]>
1-minute interval 0.5-km resolution GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm) images (above; also available as a 130 Mbyte animated GIF) showed a cluster of thunderstorms that moved southeastward across Illinois and Indiana, producing a swath of hail as large as 2.75 inches in diameter (SPC storm reports) on 20 March 2017. The shadowing and textured signature of overshooting tops could be seen in the vicinity of many of the hail reports (hail sizes, red, are plotted in 1/100th of an inch; 275 = 2.75 inches).
On 21 March, a larger-scale outbreak of wind and hail-producing thunderstorms developed which primarily impacted parts of Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina. Trees falling on homes were responsible for injuries and a fatality in Georgia, and hail as large as 3.0 inches occurred in South Carolina (SPC storm reports). As discussed on the Satellite Liaison Blog, the co-location of both Mesoscale Sectors provided images at 30-second intervals — GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm) images (below; also available as a 168 Mbyte animated GIF) again displayed very detailed cloud-top structure which included overshooting tops and gravity waves.]]>
The ABI instrument on GOES-16 is able to scan 2 Mesoscale Sectors, each of which provides images at 1-minute intervals. For what was likely a prescribed burn in the Francis Marion National Forest (near the coast of South Carolina) on 19 March 2017, a comparison of 1 minute Mesoscale Sector GOES-16 and 15-30 minute Routine Scan GOES-13 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above; also available as a 50 Mbyte animated GIF) demonstrated the clear advantage of 1-minute imagery in terms of monitoring the short-term intensity fluctuations that are often exhibited by fire activity. In this case, the intensity of the fire began to increase during 15:15-15:45 UTC — a time period when there was a 30-minute gap in routine scan imagery from GOES-13. The GOES-16 shortwave infrared brightness temperature then became very hot (red enhancement) beginning at 15:46:58 UTC, which again was not captured by GOES-13 — even on the 16:00 UTC and later images (however, this might be due to the more coarse 4-km spatial resolution of GOES-13, compared to the 2-km resolution of the shortwave infrared band on GOES-16). Similar short-term intensity fluctuations of a smaller fire (burning just to the southwest) were not adequately captured by GOES-13.
The corresponding GOES-16 vs GOES-13 Visible image comparison (below; also available as a 72 Mbyte animated GIF) also showed the advantage of 1-minute scans, along with the improved 0.5-km spatial resolution of the 0.64 µm spectral band on GOES-16 (which allowed brief pulses of pyrocumulus clouds to be seen developing over the fire source region).The rapid south-southeastward spread of the smoke plume could also be seen on true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images from Terra/Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS, as viewed using RealEarth (below). ]]>
The GOES-16 data posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational data and are undergoing testing.
One of the GOES-16 Band Difference Products available in AWIPS is shown above (click here for the same image with a default enhancement), the 8.4 µm – 11.2 µm ‘Cloud Phase’ Channel Difference. There has been considerable work showing a good correlation between the 8.4 µm – 11 µm brightness temperature difference and cloud-top phase. Click here for example. The key take-aways:
This Algorithm Theoretical Basis Document (ATBD) contains further information and references on the topic.
In the color enhancement above (generated using just 3 colors — blue, red and yellow, and easily changeable for those whose eyesight is color challenged), negative brightness temperature differences — ice clouds — are denoted by red to yellow values. Positive values are blue. Water-based clouds are white or light blue, ice clouds are red. Large Brightness Temperature Differences occur over the Desert southwest and strong negative values (blue in the enhancement) are present because of emissivity differences from the soil at the two wavelengths. The toggle below cycles through the Band Difference field, the 8.4 µm and 11.2 µm imagery, the upper level water vapor (6.19 µm), the cirrus channel (1.378 µm) and the Veggie channel (0.86 µm). Click here for a toggle between the Cloud Phase Product and Water Vapor and Cirrus channels only (to highlight ice clouds), or here for a toggle between the Cloud Phase and Veggie Band (a band in which clouds composed of water droplets are visible).
One of the GOES-16 Baseline Products will be Cloud Phase. A beta version of this product should be flowing before the end of May. The ATBD for that product shows that both 8.4 µm and 11.2 µm data are used in its creation, and the channel difference shown here shows why.
Fact Sheets are available for the 8.4 µm and 11.2 µm Channels on GOES-16 from the GOES-R website.
AWIPS Notes: AWIPS sometimes mislabels the 8.4 µm channel as 8.5 µm. The Channel Difference field shows missing data where the brightness temperature difference field is exactly zero. Such points are apparent in the image above over Minnesota and North Dakota as black speckles.]]>
Visible and thermal signatures of the Space-X EchoStar 23 rocket launch were seen with GOES-16 imagery on 16 March 2017. The set of 3 images above consists of 5-minute CONUS sector scans at 05:54:33 UTC (about 5 minutes before launch), 05:59:33 UTC (around launch time) and 06:04:33 UTC (about 5 minutes after launch). The 05:59:33 UTC image was actually scanning the NASA Kennedy Space Center (station identifier KXMR) area at 06:00:38 UTC, just after the 06:00 UTC launch time. A faint bright glow of the rocket booster was seen on the 0.5-km resolution Visible (0.64 µm) image; the 1-km resolution Near-Infrared (1.61 µm) rocket signature was much brighter, because this spectral band senses radiation from both visible and infrared portions of the electromagnetic radiation spectrum (which of the two was a stronger contributor to the bright signal is difficult to determine); the 2-km resolution Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) image displayed a warm (dark black enhancement) “hot spot”, although it was not exceptionally warm (with a 306.8 K maximum brightness temperature).
A “warm signal” was also observed on the three GOES-16 ABI Water Vapor bands: Lower-Level (7.3 µm), Mid-Level (6.9 µm) and Upper-Level (6.2 µm), as shown below. While water vapor is certainly a by-product of rocket booster combustion, it is important to remember that the Water Vapor bands are first and foremost Infrared bands that sense the brightness temperature of a layer of moisture (which can vary in both altitude and depth, depending on the temperature/moisture profile of the atmosphere and/or the satellite viewing angle). In this case, the atmosphere was relatively dry over the region, with little moisture aloft to attenuate the rocket signature — shifting the roughly-corresponding GOES-13 Sounder (had the GOES-13 Sounder instrument been operational) water vapor weighting functions (available from this site) to lower altitudes. However, moisture considerations aside, the rocket signature seen on the 05:59:33 UTC water vapor imagery was primarily a thermal anomaly.McIDAS-V images of GOES-16 Near-Infrared (1.6 µm and 2.2 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) data at 05:59:33 UTC (below; courtesy of William Straka, SSEC) provided another view of the rocket launch signature. ]]>
A winter storm produced heavy snow across parts of the Upper Midwest on 13 March 2017, and then merged with subtropical jet stream energy to help develop an intense and rapidly-deepening storm which affected much of the Northeast US during 14 March – 15 March (WPC storm summary). GOES-16 ABI Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images covering the 13-15 March period (above) showed the development and motion of this complex storm. .
A closer view of the Northeast US on 14 March (below) displayed some of the complex banding structures associated with the deepening storm, and also showed the sharp gradient of precipitation type along the coastal areas. Notable weather impacts included a storm total snowfall of 48.4 inches at Hartwick, New York, a new all-time 24-hour snowfall accumulation of 31.1 inches at Binghamton, New York, 0.4 inch of freezing rain accumulation at Chesilhurst, New Jersey and a wind gust of 77 mph at Plum Island, Massachusetts.Some interesting features were also seen in the wake of the large Northeast US component of the storm. For example, a GOES-16 Mesoscale Sector provided 1-minute interval 0.5-km resolution Visible (0.64 µm) imagery of lake effect snow bands streaming southward off Lake Michigan on 14 March, which produced heavy snow in parts of southeastern Wisconsin, northeastern Illinois and northwestern Indiana (below). GOES-16 6.2 µm, 6.9 µm and 7.3 µm Water Vapor images (below) revealed widespread mountain waves downwind of the southern Appalachians on 15 March. These mountain waves were responsible for a few pilot reports of moderate turbulence, two of which are highlighted below. ]]>
The GOES-16 data posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational data and are undergoing testing.
The ABI on GOES-16 contains 16 Channels, and those channels can be combined into RGB Imagery to highlight features that the individual channels can identify (Click here for general information on RGBs). For example, the ‘Icing RGB’ in AWIPS (also called the ‘Day Land Cloud’ RGB) uses 1.61 µm imagery for the Red component of the RGB, the 0.86 µm for the Green component and the 0.64 µm for the Blue. (This is similar to the oddly-named EUMETSAT ‘Natural Color’ RGB). The toggle above shows the three individual channels, and then the combination in the RGB. A version of the RGB was sent in this Tweet from NWS Lincoln IL.
Cyan regions are those with high values from the green component (0.86 µm) and the blue component (0.64 µm) but little from the red (1.61 µm); such regions include snow on the ground, and/or glaciated clouds. Consider, for example, the toggle below between the 0.86 µm and 1.61 µm imagery. Lake Effect clouds are distinct over Lake Michigan in both channels, where they show up against the dark background. Snow on the ground and Water Clouds look very similar at 0.86 µm (or at 0.64 µm, part of the toggle at top of this blog post) and it’s difficult to distinguish clouds from snow over land in a still image. However, the 1.61 µm imagery is much darker in regions of snow (most of the Midwest United States had snow cover on 15 March 2017). Water-based clouds show up distinctly against the darker background in the 1.61 µm imagery, and the Lake Effect clouds can be seen easily over Indiana and Michigan. There is apparently some glaciation in the lake effect clouds over land, however, because they do have a cyan tint to them.
Note how the easternmost lake effect band over Lake Michigan shows evidence of glaciation in the clouds. There is a noticeable change in reflectance between 0.86 µm and 1.61 µm in the toggle below — and that region also shows cyan in the RGB.
Over the East Coast, this RGB helps better discriminate between low clouds and high. The example below, also from 1524 UTC on 15 March, cycles through the three channels and then shows the RGB. The gradual glaciation of the ‘ocean effect’ clouds over the Atlantic is apparent east of New Jersey, as is the glaciation of some of the clouds in the north-south frontal band offshore. Low clouds are bright in all three channels (0.64 µm, 0.86 µm and 1.61 µm) and therefore appear white-ish in the RGB. Snow on the ground in clear skies is dark in the 1.61 µm imagery and cyan in the RGB.
Long-time readers of this blog are familiar with a MODIS-based product that also uses the 1.61 µm channel (in the green and blue) and the visible channel in the red to produce a Snow RGB that has Red snow and cirrus clouds, as shown in this figure from this recent blog post. The key channel for snow-detecting or cirrus-detecting RGBs is the 1.61 µm Channel because ice crystals strongly absorb radiation at that wavelength, reducing the solar reflectance.
Fact sheets are available on the 0.64 µm, 0.86 µm and 1.61 µm Channels on ABI.
The red visible (0.64 µm), veggie band (0.86 µm), snow/ice channel (1.61 µm) and RGB, above, gave information about snowcover in the Northeast in the wake of the strong winter storm on 13-15 March. The demarcation between snow and no snow is particularly apparent in central New Jersey. Note snow/land discrimination in the Veggie Band is reduced compared to the visible (click here for a toggle between the two channels) — because of very strong surface reflectance over bare ground. There are northwest-to-southeast streaks in the RGB imagery from southwestern Ontario into northeastern Pennsylvania. These are present because of cirrus clouds as highlighted by the Cirrus Channel at 1.38 µm. The RGB is also able to distinguish between low clouds over western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and eastern Ohio (that are mostly white in the RGB) and higher ice-laden clouds that are cyan.
AWIPS Note: Visible (0.47 µm and 0.64 µm) and Veggie Band (0.86 µm) imagery can show missing data in regions of high reflectance near solar Noon, because albedo values then can exceed 1. When those bands are then used in RGBs, the missing data points are apparent. A fix on this to allow an albedo >1 is in progress.]]>
The GOES-16 data posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational data and are undergoing testing.
The ABI on GOES-16 includes a Snow/Ice Channel at 1.61 µm and a Cirrus Channel at 1.38 µm. These bands offer different perspectives on the evolution of the atmosphere before and during the strong 13-14 March 2017 winter storm on the East Coast of the United States. The Snow/Ice channel, above, is dark in regions where ice clouds or snow on the ground are present because ice is a strong absorber of radiation with a wavelength of 1.61 µm. Water clouds, in contrast, readily reflect such radiation and appear brighter white. Consider the mp4 animation above (available here as a 150-megabyte animated gif). At the start of the animation, on 12 March, snow is indicated over Tennessee, a dark stripe that erodes on that day under the strong March sun. Cirrus retreating southward over the southeastern United States (cloud signals that are grey in the 1.61 µm imagery) reveal much brighter low-level stratus clouds (made of water droplets). Cirrus contrails are apparent above those low clouds. The Mesovortex over the Great Lakes is bright white — water clouds — and is gradually obscured by high-level cirrus clouds from the west and northwest. Terrain-induced wave clouds are also present over Pennsylvania. Their bright color suggests they are composed of water droplets.
On 13 March, low clouds are moving northward over the Piedmont of North Carolina and Virginia as Cirrus clouds spread northeastward from the Deep South. By 14 March, a well-developed wave cyclone is apparent with a large cirrus canopy outlining a warm conveyor belt.
What does the Cirrus Channel, below show? (Click here for a large animated gif.) Strong absorption by water vapor molecules occurs at 1.38 µm. Note, for example, that on 12 March the mesovortex is not apparent in the Cirrus Channel — but the wave clouds over Pennsylvania are. The conclusion is that the atmosphere over the northeast is much dryer than that over the western Great Lakes. On 13-14 March, lake-effect clouds are apparent downwind of Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and over Wisconsin. The airmass has dried over the Upper Midwest in two days, allowing the Cirrus Channel to view features closer to the surface. In general, the cirrus channel provides outstanding delineation of cloud-top structures over the developing and mature extratropical cyclone.
The Cirrus Channel and the Snow/Ice Channel rely on reflected Solar energy to provide a signal. As such they are useful primarily during the day.
Added: Animations showing the evolution of the three GOES-16 Water Vapor bands during part of the East Coast storm’s lifecycle are available here. A water vapor animation from a CONUS perspective is available here. A better-quality animation centered over the northeast US is available here. Here is an animated gif/mp4 with 6.9 µm brightness temperatures and surface observations. A blog post on this storm is here.]]>