Deadly Smog in India and Pakistan

November 9th, 2017 |

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day Night Band Visible Imagery (0.70 µm) at Night, 05, 07 and 08 November 2017 (Click to enlarge).

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible Imagery at Night (the Day Night Band Visible Image (0.7 µm) from 5 November, 7 November and 8 November), above, and Infrared Channel Brightness Temperature Difference  (11.45 µm – 3.9 µm) on 5 November, 7 November and 8 November), below, both show the presence of fog/smog over northern Pakistan and northwestern India from 05-08 November 2017 (Suomi NPP VIIRS Imagery courtesy of William Straka, CIMSS). The Smog led the Government of Punjab to ban burning of stubble; schools in Delhi were closed.  Vehicle crashes linked to reduced visibilities have killed at least 10 people (source).  Air Quality in the region is very poor as shown in this Screen Grab from this site.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared channel Brightness Temperature Difference (11.45 µm – 3.9 µm) on 05, 07, and 08 November 2017 (Click to enlarge)

An animation of Meteosat-8 Visible Imagery, below, from 03-09 November, shows little improvement in conditions in the past week.

Meteosat-8 Visible Imagery (0.6 µm) at 0300 UTC from 03 to 09 November 2017 (Click to enlarge)

Daily composites of Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images from RealEarth, below, showed the areal coverage of the smog during the 03-09 November period. Surface observations at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport indicated that the visibility remained below one statute mile — with zero visibility at times — during the 72-hour period spanning 07 November, 08 November and 09 November (animation).

Daily composites of Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB images (click to enlarge)

Daily composites of Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB images (click to enlarge)

Worth noting on a nighttime comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Brightness Difference (11.45-3.74 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images, below, was the appearance of a cloud shadow being cast by moonlight onto the top of the boundary layer smog/fog.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Brightness Difference (11.45-3.74 µm) and Dat/Night Band (0.7 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Brightness Difference (11.45-3.74 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Wildfires in Northern California

October 9th, 2017 |

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with county outlines plotted in gray (dashed) and surface station identifiers plotted in white [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with county outlines plotted in gray (dashed) and surface station identifiers plotted in white [click to play MP4 animation]

* GOES-16 data posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational and are undergoing testing *

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above) showed the “hot spot” signatures (black to yellow to red pixels) associated with numerous wildfires that began to burn in Northern California’s Napa County around 0442 UTC on 09 October 2017 (9:42 PM local time on 08 October). A strong easterly to northeasterly Diablo wind (gusts) along with dry fuels led to extreme fire behavior, with many of the fires quickly exhibiting very hot infrared brightness temperature values and growing in size at an explosive rate (reportedly burning 80,000 acres in 18 hours).

A comparison of nighttime GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) and Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) images (below) offered another example of nocturnal fire signature identification — the bright glow of the fires showed up well on the 1-km resolution 1.61 µm imagery. Especially noteworthy was the very rapid southwestward run of the Tubbs Fire, which eventually moved just south of station identifier KSTS (Santa Rosa Sonoma County Airport; the city of Santa Rosa is located about 5 miles southeast of the airport. These Northern California fires have resulted in numerous fatalities, destroyed at least 3500 homes and businesses, and forced large-scale evacuations (media story).

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, left) and Near-Infrared

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, left) and Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm, right) images [click to play MP4 animation]

A toggle between 1007 UTC (3:07 AM local time) Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images (below) provided a view of the fires at an even higher spatial resolution. Since the Moon was in the Waning Gibbous phase (at 82% of Full), it provided ample illumination to highlight the dense smoke plumes drifting west-southwestward over the adjacent offshore waters of the Pacific Ocean.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images [click to enlarge]

A closer VIIRS image comparison (with county outlines) is shown below.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images [click to enlarge]

A comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color and false-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images from RealEarth (below) helped to discriminate between smoke and cloud features offshore over the Pacific Ocean.

Suomi NPP VIIRS True-color and False-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS True-color and False-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

===== 10 October Update =====
Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color and false-color images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color and false-color images [click to enlarge]

With the switch to southwesterly surface winds on 10 October, smoke plumes could be seen moving northeastward on RealEarth VIIRS true-color imagery, while the burn scars of a number of the larger fires became apparent on VIIRS false-color RGB imagery (above).

===== 11 October Update =====

Landsat-8 false-color RGB images, from 04 October (before the Tubbs Fire) and 11 October (after the Tubbs Fire) [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 false-color RGB images, from 04 October (before the Tubbs Fire) and 11 October (after the Tubbs Fire) [click to enlarge]

A toggle (above)  between 30-meter resolution Landsat-8 false-color RGB images from 04 October (before the Tubbs Fire) and 11 October (after the Tubbs Fire) showed the size of the fire burn scar (shades of brown) which extended southwestward from the fire source region into Santa Rosa.

===== 12 October Update =====
Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB images, with VIIRS-detected fire locations [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB images, with VIIRS-detected fire locations [click to enlarge]

A transition back to northerly winds on 12 October helped to transport the wildfire smoke far southward over the Pacific Ocean (above). Smoke was reducing surface visibility and adversely affecting air quality at locations such as San Francisco (below).

Time series plot of surface observations at San Francisco International Airport [click to enlarge]

Time series plot of surface observations at San Francisco International Airport [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Aerosol Optical Depth values were very high — at or near 1.0 — within portions of the dense smoke plume (below).

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB image and Aerosol Optical Depth product [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB image and Aerosol Optical Depth product [click to enlarge]

Widespread Smoke in the Pacific Northwest

September 6th, 2017 |

GOES-16 data posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational and are undergoing testing

Dry weather over the Pacific Northwest (and over Idaho and Montana) has created an ideal environment lately for wildfires, and much of the region is shrouded in smoke from those fires as shown in the Suomi NPP True Color Imagery, above, from this site.  Note the red points that are Suomi-NPP-detected fires; they persist from day to day, and some grow in size during the course of the animation. GOES-16 Animations of True Color (in this case, the CIMSS Natural True Color product that is created using Bands 1, 2 and 3 (0.47 µm, 0.64 µm and 0.86 µm, respectively)), below, (also available here; a similar product from CIRA is available here), show the pall of smoke as well. Air Quality Alerts from the National Weather Service were widespread on 6 September.

CIMSS Natural True Color, every 15 minutes, from 1400-2130 UTC on 6 September 2017 (Click to animate)

GOES-16 has multiple channels and products that can view both the Smoke and the Fires that produce the smoke. In addition to the visible imagery, Fire Products, below, can characterize the Temperature, Power (in megawatts) and area (in square meters) of the fire detected by GOES-16.  On this day, clouds over the fires in Oregon mean that satellite detection is challenged, even though the by-product, smoke, is apparent.  Fires over Idaho are readily apparent however.  These fires were also detected by the 3.9 µm Shortwave Infrared channel on GOES-16, the traditional fire-detection channel (used in concert with 10.3 µm, the clean window channel).  Imagery at 1.6 µm and 2.2 µm imagery can also be used to highlight hot fires;  that will be the subject of a future blog post.

GOES-16 Fire Products: Fire Temperature, Fire Power and Fire Area, 2037 UTC on 6 September 2017 (Click to enlarge)

 

The mp4 animation, below, shows CIMSS Natural True Color over the Full Disk on 5 September 2017.  The Full Disk View allows a better visualization of how the smoke is moving (and underscores how widespread it is) — and it shows Hurricane Irma as well.

CIMSS Natural True Color, every 15 minutes, on 5 September 2017 (Click to animate)

 

NOAA creates many Smoke-related products, some of which are easily accessible at this link.

Blowing Dust over northern Montana

May 24th, 2017 |

GOES-16 Visible Imagery (0.64 µm) from 1707 through 1802 UTC on 24 May 2017 (Click to enlarge)

GOES-16 data posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational data and are undergoing testing

The strong pressure gradient around a Low Pressure system over Alberta and Saskatchewan caused strong winds across northern Montana on 24 May 2017, and blowing dust was the result, especially in Hill and Blaine Counties. The visible animation, above, from 1707 to 1802 UTC on 24 May, shows a faint hazy signature along the border of Canada.  The emphasis is on the word ‘faint’ — it is very difficult to pick out the signature unless you know it’s there already  (Thanks to MIC Tanja Fransen at WFO Glasgow for alerting us to this event).  The ‘Blue’ Visible band animation (below) similarly shows the dust, but it is not distinct in this band either.  (*Note* — part of this, of course, is because the default enhancement for visible imagery has been used.  If the ‘low light’ enhancement is applied, the dust signature is more apparent. This visible animation from 1502-2122, courtesy Tanja Fransen, more obviously shows the dust).

GOES-16 Visible Imagery (0.47 µm) from 1707 through 1802 UTC on 24 May 2017 (Click to enlarge)

Brightness Temperature Difference products are routinely available in AWIPS. The Split-Window Difference (SWD), below, shows the difference between the ‘Clean Infrared Window’ (10.33 µm) and the ‘Dirty Infrared Window’ (12.3 µm) (‘Clean’ and ‘Dirty’ referring to a little and more, respectively, water vapor absorption) has historically been used to detect dust: dust will absorb 10.33 µm radiation but it will not absorb 12.3 µm radiation, thus the SWD can highlight regions of dust.  However, that difference is also influenced by water vapor above the dust, and by the type of dust being lofted.

Split Window Difference (10.33 µm – 12.2 µm) from 1707 to 1802 UTC, 24 May 2017 (Click to enlarge)

The Cloud Phase Difference (8.5 µm – 11.2 µm) also can highlight regions of dust, and for this case the signal of dust was a bit more distinct.

Cloud Phase Brightness Temperature Difference (8.5 µm – 11.2 µm) from 1707 to 1802 UTC, 24 May 2017 (Click to enlarge)

Surface data plotted over the 0.64 µm at 1712 UTC, below, show the strong winds in the region (Here is an image at 1802 UTC). Visibilities in the areas of blowing dust were reported to be near zero.

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm) at 1712 UTC and 1700 UTC surface observations (Click to enlarge)

A Terra MODIS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image at 1745 UTC, below, revealed that the source of some of the most dense dust plumes appeared to be uncultivated fields located north and northeast of Havre.

Terra MODIS true-color RGB image (Click to enlarge)

Terra MODIS true-color RGB image (Click to enlarge)

(Added: Stuart Lawrence, south of Rosetown in west-central Saskatchewan, tweeted out this video that showed the dust storm there. He reported winds up to 98 km/hour). Here is another image of the dust in Saskatchewan.

The GOES Aerosol/Smoke Products (GASP) showed a noticeable signal for this dust. Here is a large-scale animation from 1315-2145 UTC, with a closer view from 1015-2345 UTC here)