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]

Natural gas line explosion and fire in Kentucky

August 1st, 2019 |

GOES-16 Fire Temperature (top left), Fire Power (top right), Fire Area (bottom left) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, bottom right) [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Fire Temperature (top left), Fire Power (top right), Fire Area (bottom left) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, bottom right) [click to play animation | MP4]

An explosion and fire along a natural gas pipeline occurred between Junction City and Moreland in central Kentucky on 01 August 2019 (media story 1 | media story 2). GOES-16 (GOES-East) Fire Temperature, Fire Power, Fire Area and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above) showed the thermal signature of the fire — the Fire Temperature peak of 2438.8 K occurred at 0536 UTC, with the maximum Fire Power of 1102.8 MW and the highest 3.9 µm brightness temperature of 103.6ºC occurring at 0526 UTC. More information on these GOES Fire Detection and Characterization Algorithm (FDCA) products can be found here.

In a corresponding comparison of GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm), Near-Infrared “Cloud Particle Size” (2.24 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (below), thermal signatures were also seen in the Near-Infrared imagery — and a dim signature of this nighttime fire was even apparent in the Visible imagery! The surface observations from Danville Stuart Powell Field Airport are plotted in yellow; the winds were light, minimizing smoke dispersion — but note that the visibility briefly dropped from 10 miles to 7 miles at 07 UTC (possibly due to some smoke drifting over the airport). 

GOES-16 "Red" Visible (0.64 µm, top left), Near-Infrared "Snow/Ice" (1.61 µm, top right), Near-Infrared "Cloud Particle Size" (2.24 µm, bottom left) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, bottom right) [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, top left), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm, top right), Near-Infrared “Cloud Particle Size” (2.24 µm, bottom left) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, bottom right) [click to play animation | MP4]

In a comparison of the 4-panel image sets at 0526 UTC (below), the higher spatial resolution of the 0.64 µm (0.5 km*) and 1.61 µm (1 km*) images helped to refine the actual location of the fire. [*at satellite sub-point]

GOES-16 4-panel images at 0526 UTC [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 4-panel images at 0526 UTC [click to enlarge]

With the higher spatial resolution of Suomi NPP VIIRS  and Aqua MODIS Shortwave Infrared imagery, the size and location of the fire’s thermal signature was more accurate when compared to GOES-16 (below). For example, even during the later stage of the fire at 0737 UTC, the VIIRS Shortwave Infrared brightness temperature was 32.0ºC, compared to only 17.9ºC with GOES-16.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm, top left), GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, top right), Aqua MODIS Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm, bottom left) and GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, bottom right) images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm, top left), GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, top right), Aqua MODIS Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm, bottom left) and GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, bottom right) images [click to enlarge]

The bright glow of the fire was also evident in a Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) image at 0651 UTC (below).

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

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

A thermal signature of the fire (darker red to black pixels) was also seen in GOES-14 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (below).

GOES-14 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to enlarge]

GOES-14 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to enlarge]

GOES-14 is brought out of storage

July 31st, 2019 |

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images [click to enlarge]

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images [click to enlarge]

GOES-14 was brought out of storage on 31 July 2019, for its annual week of Image Navigation and Registration (INR) testing and a North/South station-keeping maneuver — the first few hours of Full Disk Visible (0.63 µm) images are shown above. The SSEC Satellite Data Services group was able to position a spare rooftop antenna to receive the GOES-14 data during this test.

A closer look at the southwestern portion of Hudson Bay (below) revealed a large and anomalously-late area of First-year ice off the coast of Ontario.

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images [click to enlarge]

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images [click to enlarge]

In addition to the Imager, the GOES-14 Sounder is also operating. Recall that the sounder provides 18 infrared spectral bands and one visible band (below). A combined image showing both the Sounder and Imager bands has been generated.

Sample GOES-14 multi-spectral image

GOES-14 Sounder mult-spectral animation from August 1, 2019 [click to play animation]

GOES-14 Sounder imagery are being posted in near real-time during this annual test.

===== 01 August Update =====

GOES-14 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to enlarge]

GOES-14 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to enlarge]

GOES-14 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above) revealed the warm thermal anomaly or “hot spot” (darker red to black pixels) resulting from a natural gas explosion and fire in central Kentucky on 01 August (blog post).