Bush fires in eastern Australia

November 8th, 2019 |

JMA Himawari-8 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) and Longwave Infrared Window (10.4 µm) imagery (below) showed the evolution of smoke plumes, hot 3.9 µm fire thermal anomalies (red pixels) and cloud-top infrared brightness temperatures of isolated pyrocumulus associated with bush fires that were burning in far eastern parts of New South Wales and Queensland, Australia from 1900 UTC on 07 November to 0800 UTC on 08 November 2019. With strong northwesterly surface winds, many of the fire thermal anomalies exhibited rapid southeastward runs toward the coast. That region of Australia had just experienced severe to record 3-month rainfall deficiencies — which included the driest October on record for the southern third of the country.

Himawari-8

Himawari-8 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface reports [click to play animation | MP4]

Himawari-8 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface reports [click to play animation | MP4]

Himawari-8 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface reports [click to play animation | MP4]

Himawari-8 Longwave Infrared Window (10.4 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface reports [click to play animation | MP4]

Himawari-8 Longwave Infrared Window (10.4 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface reports [click to play animation | MP4]

Himawari-8 True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images created using McIDAS-V (below) provided another view of the dense smoke plumes from 0000-0610 UTC. Toward the end of the animation — in the upper left portion of the satellite scene — plumes of blowing dust could be seen moving eastward from farther inland.

Himawari-8 True Color RGB images (credit: Bob Carp, SSEC) [click to play animation | MP4]

Himawari-8 True Color RGB images (credit: Bob Carp, SSEC) [click to play animation | MP4]

A combination of Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB and Shortwave Infrared (4.1 µm) imagery at 0328 UTC (below) revealed hot thermal signatures of the fires (yellow to red enhancement) at the source of the smoke plumes.

Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB + Shortwave Infrared (4.1 µm) imagery at 0328 UTC [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB + Shortwave Infrared (4.1 µm) imagery at 0328 UTC (credit: Bob Carp, SSEC) [click to enlarge]

A toggle between a Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB image and a display of Sentinel-5 TROPOMI Tropospheric Vertical Column NO2 (below) indicated high NO2 concentrations immediately downwind of these fires.

Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB image + TROPOMI Tropospheric Vertical Column NO2 [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB image + Sentinel-5 TROPOMI Tropospheric Vertical Column NO2 (credit: Bob Carp, SSEC) [click to enlarge]

The dense smoke plumes were also evident in a sequence of 3 VIIRS True Color RGB images from NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP, as visualized using RealEarth (below).

NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB images [click to enlarge]

VIIRS True Color RGB images from NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP [click to enlarge]

Smoke reduced the surface visibility to 3 miles or less at Grafton (YGFN) from 03-05 UTC (below).

Time series of surface report data from Grafton, New South Wales [click to enlarge]

Time series of surface report data from Grafton, New South Wales [click to enlarge]


Potential Vorticity anomaly approaching Baja California and Southern California

November 5th, 2019 |

GOES-17 Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm), Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) and Air Mass RGB images, with and without contours of PV1.5 pressure [click to play animation |MP4]

GOES-17 Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm), Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) and Air Mass RGB images, with and without contours of PV1.5 pressure [click to play animation |MP4]

GOES-17 (GOES-West) Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm), Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) and Air Mass RGB images (above) displayed the signature of dry, ozone-rich air associated with a Potential Vorticity (PV) anomaly approaching Baja California and Southern California on 05 November 2019. The “dynamic tropopause” — taken to be the pressure of the PV1.5 surface — descended to the 500 hPa level within this PV anomaly.

A GOES-17 Water Vapor image with plots of available NOAA-20 NUCAPS soundings (below) is labeled with sounding points within the core of the PV anomaly (Point 1) and within the core of the driest air (Point 2).

GOES-17 Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm) images, with plots of available NOAA-20 NUCAPS soundings [click to enlarge]

GOES-17 Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm) images, with plots of available NOAA-20 NUCAPS soundings [click to enlarge]

The NUCAPS sounding profiles for Point 1 and Point 2 are shown below. The middle/upper troposphere was quite dry at both locations.

NUCAPS sounding profile for Point 1 [click to enlarge]

NUCAPS sounding profile for Point 1 [click to enlarge]

NUCAPS sounding profile for Point 2 [click to enlarge]

NUCAPS sounding profile for Point 2 [click to enlarge]

Antares rocket launch from Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia

November 2nd, 2019 |

Sequence of individual GOES-16 ABI spectral bands, from 1358-1406 UTC [click to play animation | MP4]

Sequence of GOES-16 ABI spectral band images, from 1358-1406 UTC [click to play animation | MP4]

A sequence of 1-minute Mesoscale Domain Sector GOES-16 (GOES-East) images from all 16 of the ABI spectral bands during the period 1358-1406 UTC on 02 November 2019 (above) revealed signatures of the launch of an Antares rocket from the Wallops Flight Facility along the eastern shore of Virginia. The signature that was seen in all 16 spectral bands was that of the low-altitude rocket exhaust condensation cloud, which originated at the launch site then drifted northeastward over the Chincoteague area.

In addition, a thermal signature of air that was superheated by the rocket exhaust was evident in Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) and Water Vapor (6.2 µm, 6.9 µm and 7.3 µm) images — initially about 2-3 miles east-northeast of Chincoteague at 1401 UTC, and then about 50 miles due east of Wallops Island at 1402 UTC (below). Also apparent on the 1402 UTC Water Vapor images was the cooler signature of the low-altitude exhaust condensation cloud near Chincoteague.

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) and Water Vapor (6.2 µm, 6.9 µm and 7.3 µm) images at 1402 UTC [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) and Water Vapor (6.2 µm, 6.9 µm and 7.3 µm) images at 1402 UTC [click to enlarge]

An animation of 16-panel images displaying all of the GOES-16 ABI spectral bands is shown below.

16-panel images of GOES-16 ABI spectral bands from 1400-1406 UTC [click to play animation]

16-panel images of GOES-16 ABI spectral bands from 1400-1406 UTC [click to play animation]

GOES-16 Cloud Top Temperature and Cloud Top Phase products [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Cloud Top Temperature and Cloud Top Phase products [click to enlarge]

Regarding the northeastward-moving low-altitude rocket exhaust condensation cloud, GOES-16 Cloud Top Temperature and Cloud Top Phase products (above) indicated that the feature was composed of water droplets, exhibiting cloud top temperature values in the 8ºC to 10ºC range. According to 12 UTC rawinsonde data from Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia (below), those temperatures existed at altitudes of 1.8-2.1 km (5900-6900 ft) where there were southwesterly winds of 18-25 knots.

Plot of 12 UTC rawinsonde data from Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia [click to enlarge]

Plot of 12 UTC rawinsonde data from Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia [click to enlarge]

Because of the low early-morning sun angle, the exhaust condensation cloud was casting a shadow farther inland over Virginia, as seen in GOES-16 Visible images (below).

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (courtesy of Tim Schmit, NOAA/NESDIS/ASPB) [click to enlarge]

Easy Fire in Southern California

October 30th, 2019 |

GOES-17 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) and “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) and “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

As northeast Santa Ana winds began to increase before sunrise on 30 October 2019, 1-minute Mesoscale Domain Sector GOES-17 (GOES-West) Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) and “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (above) showed the sudden onset of a thermal anomaly (cluster of  hot 3.9 µm pixels) — associated with the Easy Fire northwest of Los Angeles — which occurred at 1308-1309 UTC (6:08-6:09 AM local time). After sunrise, the narrow wind-driven smoke plume was seen in the Visible imagery.

A comparison of 3 consecutive VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) images from Suomi NPP and NOAA-20 with the corresponding GOES-17 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (below) demonstrated the advantage of polar orbiter imagery for providing a more accurate depiction of the size and location of a fire. Note: the color enhancements are different for the Suomi NPP/NOAA-20 vs GOES-17 images, since there are differences between shortwave infrared detectors on the VIIRS and ABI instruments.

3.74 µm Shortwave Infrared images from Suomi NPP and NOAA-20 compared with the corresponding GOES-17 3.9 µm images [click to enlarge]

3.74 µm Shortwave Infrared images from Suomi NPP and NOAA-20 compared with the corresponding GOES-17 3.9 µm images [click to enlarge]