VIIRS imagery and NUCAPS profiles near the North Pole

August 22nd, 2019 |

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]

A sequence of 4 consecutive Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.4 µm) images (above) showed a small swirl of clouds associated with a weak area of low pressure near the North Pole — north of Greenland — on 22 August 2019 (surface analyses).

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) images, with plots of NUCAPS availability [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) images, with plots of NUCAPS availability [click to enlarge]

There were NUCAPS soundings available in the vicinity of the surface low (above) — profiles from the 4 squared green dot locations (green dots indicate successful retrievals from both the CrIS and ATMS instruments) which were closest to both the surface low and the North Pole (below) revealed characteristically-low arctic tropopause heights of around 7-8 km, and surface temperatures dropping to below freezing at the 2 most northerly points of 88.28º and 88.57º N latitude.

NUCAPS temperature (red) and dew point (green) profiles [click to enlarge]

NUCAPS temperature (red) and dew point (green) profiles [click to enlarge]

Pyrocumulonimbus cloud in Bolivia

August 18th, 2019 |

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, top), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, middle) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm, bottom) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images (above) showed the formation of a pyrocumulonimbus (pyroCb) cloud over far southeastern Bolivia on 18 August 2019. The small anvil cloud briefly surpassed the -40ºC pyroCb threshold from 1800-1820 UTC, attaining a minimum cloud-top infrared brightness temperature of -45.2ºC along the Bolivia/Paraguay border at 1800 UTC. This pyroCb formed over the hottest southern portion of an elongated fire line, as seen in the Shortwave Infrared imagery.

A 1.5-day animation of GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared images (from 12 UTC on 17 August to 2350 UTC on 18 August) revealed the rapid southeastward run of the fire to the Bolivia/Paraguay border on 17 August, followed by the eastward expansion of the fire line on 18 August (below).

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

A toggle between Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images as viewed using RealEarth (below) showed the large and dense smoke plume streaming southeastward, with the small pyroCb along the Bolivia/Paraguay border at 1745 UTC — the brighter white tops of the pyrocumulus and pyrocumulonimbus clouds reached higher altitudes than the tan-colored smoke plume. The coldest cloud-top infrared brightness temperature was about -55ºC (orange enhancement), which corresponded to an altitude around 9 km according to rawinsonde data from Corumbá, Bolivia.

Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]


Strong northerly to northwesterly surface winds were blowing across the region, in advance of an approaching cold front (surface analyses) — at Robore, Bolivia (located just north-northwest of the fires), winds were gusting to 25-28 knots during much of the day (below).

Time series of surface report data from Robore, Bolivia [click to enlarge]

Time series of surface report data from Robore, Bolivia [click to enlarge]

This is likely the second confirmed case of a South American pyroCb (the first being on 29 January 2018) — in addition, it’s the second pyroCb documented in the tropics and the first pyroCb documented during a winter season. Thanks to Mike Fromm (NRL) for bringing this case to our attention!

Swan Lake Fire in Alaska

August 17th, 2019 |

GOES-17

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

1-minute Mesoscale Domain Sector GOES-17 (GOES-West) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above) revealed thick smoke and a pronounced thermal anomaly (hot pixels, darker black) associated with the Swan Lake Fire on the Kenai Peninsula in south-central Alaska on 17 August 2019. Later in the day, a few pyrocumulus jumps could be seen in Visible imagery over the fire source region, as fire behavior increased (another day when pyrocumulus jumps were apparent with this fire was 30 June, during a period when southerly winds were transporting dense smoke to the Anchorage area).

Strong northerly-northwesterly winds were transporting smoke from the Swan Lake Fire southward across the Kenai Peninsula and the Seward area — a time series of surface report data from Seward (below) showed that this smoke had reduced the visibility to less than 1 mile by 03 UTC (7 PM local time). South-central Alaska was experiencing drought conditions, which had worsened from the preceding week; the strong winds on this day acted to dry fuels even further, leading to a re-invigoration of the long-lived fire.

Time series of surface reports from Seward, Alaska [click to enlarge]

Time series of surface report data from Seward, Alaska [click to enlarge]

Seward Airport webcam image at 2358 UTC [click to enlarge]

Seward Airport webcam image at 2358 UTC [click to enlarge]

The PM2.5 Air Quality Index reached 427 at Cooper Landing, and 358 farther downwind at Seward (below).

Air Quality Index at Copper Landing and Seward [click to enlarge]

Air Quality Index at Copper Landing and Seward [click to enlarge]

The southward transport of smoke across the Seward area and out over the adjacent offshore waters of the Gulf of Alaska was evident in VIIRS True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images from NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP, as viewed using RealEarth (below).

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

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

Record Total Precipitable Water in Alaska

August 14th, 2019 |

Plot of rawinsonde data from Anchorage, Alaska [click to enlarge]

Plot of rawinsonde data from Anchorage, Alaska [click to enlarge]

Plot of rawinsonde data from Fairbanks, Alaska [click to enlarge]

Plot of rawinsonde data from Fairbanks, Alaska [click to enlarge]

Total Precipitable Water (TPW) calculated from rawinsonde data at both Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska were all-time record maximum values at 00 UTC on 14 August 2019.

The microwave-based MIMIC TPW product (below) showed an atmospheric river of moisture moving northeastward toward Alaska during the 2 days leading up to the record-setting TPW values on the Anchorage and Fairbanks soundings. The global view suggested that some of this moisture may have originated from the northern periphery of the TPW reservoir associated with slow-moving Typhoon Krosa in the West Pacific Ocean, being transported eastward then northeastward by a series of frontal waves (surface analyses).

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water [click to play animation | MP4]

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water [click to play animation | MP4]

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water [click to play animation | MP4]

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water [click to play animation | MP4]