Train of standing waves south of Hawai’i

November 25th, 2018 |
GOES-17 Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images [click to play animation | MP4]

* GOES-17 images shown here are preliminary and non-operational *

GOES-17 Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images (above) revealed an interesting train of standing waves about 100-150 miles south of the Big Island of Hawai’i on 25 November 2018. With the presence of moisture aloft, the 3 water vapor weighting functions — calculated using the 00 UTC Hilo sounding — were shifted to high enough altitudes to eliminate the sensing of radiation from features in the lower troposphere. There were no pilot reports of turbulence in the vicinity of these standing waves — but they were located outside of the primary commercial air traffic corridors to/from the islands.

GOES-17 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) and Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.37 µm) images (below) showed that these wave clouds were radiometrically transparent to longwave thermal energy being emitted from/near the surface — note that marine boundary layer stratocumulus clouds could be seen drifting westward within the easterly trade wind flow. As a result, the satellite-sensed 10.3 µm infrared brightness temperatures of the standing wave clouds were significantly warmer than that of the air at higher altitudes where they existed. These standing wave cloud features were, however, very apparent in 1.37 µm Cirrus imagery, along with what appeared to be other thin filaments of cirrus cascading southward overhead. The southward motion of the features seen on Cirrus imagery suggests that they existed at pressure levels of 370 hPa (26,900 feet / 8.2 km) or higher — altitudes where northerly winds were found on the Hilo sounding.

GOES-17 "Clean" Infrared Window (10.3 µm) and Near-Infrared "Cirrus" (1.37 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) and Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.37 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

A comparison of all 16 ABI spectral bands is shown below. Note that in the longwave infrared bands along the bottom 4 panels, the brightness temperatures are progressively colder (darker shades of green) on the 11.2 µm, 12.3 µm and 13.3 µm images — each of these bands are increasingly affected by water vapor absorption aloft, therefore more effectively sensing the thin layer of higher-altitude standing wave clouds. AWIPS cursor sampling showed the differences in detected brightness temperature at 3 different points along the feature: here, here and here. The increasing sensitivity to radiation emitted from higher altitudes can also be seen in a comparison of weighting functions for ABI bands 13, 14, 15 and 16.

GOES-17 images of all 16 ABI bands [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 images of all 16 ABI spectral bands [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-15 (GOES-West) Water Vapor (6.5 µm), Infrared Window (10.7 µm) and Infrared CO2 (13.3 µm) images (below) showed that the lower spatial resolution of the legacy GOES Imager infrared bands (4 km at satellite sub-point) was not able to resolve the individual waves as well as the 2-km GOES-17 ABI images . Also, as was seen with the GOES-17 imagery, the 13.3 µm CO2 brightness temperatures of the standing wave clouds were significantly colder (shades of blue) compared to those of the conventional 10.7 µm Infrared Window. The corresponding GOES-15 Visible imagery (0.63 µm) is also available: animated GIF | MP4.

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm, keft), Infrared Window (10.7 µm, center) and Infraered CO2 (13.3 µm, right) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm, keft), Infrared Window (10.7 µm, center) and Infraered CO2 (13.3 µm, right) images [click to play animation | MP4]

In comparisons of VIIRS True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images from Suomi NPP and NOAA-20 visualized using RealEarth (below), note the highly-transparent nature of the standing wave clouds on the RGB images; only the earliest 2256 UTC VIIRS 11.45 µm image displayed brightness temperatures of -20ºC and colder (cyan to blue enhancement).

Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 2256 UTC [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 2256 UTC [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 2336 UTC [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 2336 UTC [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 0028 UTC [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 0028 UTC [click to enlarge]

Terra (at 2043 UTC) and Aqua (at 2347 UTC) MODIS True Color RGB images along with retrievals of Cloud Phase, Cloud Top Temperature, Cloud Top Height and Cloud Top Pressure from the WorldView site (below) indicated that the standing wave feature was composed of ice crystal clouds exhibiting temperature values of -53ºC and colder (dark purple enhancement) located at heights of 12 km or higher (and at pressure levels at or above 250 hPa). These temperature/height/pressure values roughly corresponded to the upper portion of a layer of increasing relative humidity between 200-274 hPa on the Hilo sounding.

Terra MODIS True Color RGB image and retrievals of Cloud Phase, Cloud Top Temperature, Cloud Top Height and Cloud Top Pressure at 2043 UTC [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS True Color RGB image and retrievals of Cloud Phase, Cloud Top Temperature, Cloud Top Height and Cloud Top Pressure at 2043 UTC [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS True Color RGB image and retrievals of Cloud Phase, Cloud Top Temperature, Cloud Top Height and Cloud Top Pressure at 2347 UTC [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS True Color RGB image and retrievals of Cloud Phase, Cloud Top Temperature, Cloud Top Height and Cloud Top Pressure at 2347 UTC [click to enlarge]

However, an experimental CLAVR-x version of GOES-17 Cloud Type, Cloud Top Temperature and Cloud Top Height products (below; courtesy of Steve Wanzong, CIMSS) indicated Cirrus clouds having temperature values in the 210-200 K (-63 to -73ºC) range at heights within the 13-16 km range. These colder/higher values raise the question of whether the wave clouds might have formed and been ducted within the shallow temperature inversion near 15 km on the Hilo sounding.

GOES-17 Cloud Type product [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 Cloud Type product [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 Cloud Top Temperature product [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 Cloud Top Temperature product [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 Cloud Top Height product [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 Cloud Top Height product [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 False Color RGB images (below) vividly portrayed the transparent nature of the high-altitude standing wave cloud feature, which allowed westward-moving stratocumulus clouds within the marine boundary layer to plainly be seen. The RGB components are 1.38 µm / 0.64 µm /  1.61 µm.

GOES-17 False Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 False Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

A coherent explanation of this feature and what caused it to form remains elusive, earning it a distinguished place in the what the heck is this? blog category. Perhaps one clue existed in the winds aloft, as depicted by the NAM at 200 hPa, 250 hPa and 300 hPa (below), which showed northerly/northeasterly flow that was decelerating as it entered a trough axis (the region within the red box). Could this flow deceleration have induced a “reverse flow” which then caused enough weak lift to form the thin standing wave clouds within the aforementioned semi-moist 200-274 hPa layer seen on the Hilo sounding? No other obvious forcing mechanisms were in the immediate area — a slowly-approaching surface cold front was too far north of Hawai’i to have played a role.

NAM Winds at 200 hPa, 250 hPa and 300 hPa [click to enlarge]

NAM Winds at 200 hPa, 250 hPa and 300 hPa [click to enlarge]

Banner cloud in Alaska

November 7th, 2018 |

Topography + Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images, with/without overlays of NAM12 250 hPa winds [click to play animation | MP4]

Topography + Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images, with/without overlays of NAM12 250 hPa winds [click to play animation | MP4]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images (above) showed a well-defined banner cloud extending from the Brooks Range in northern Alaska to the Beaufort Sea on 07 November 2018. Overlays of NAM12 model 250 hPa winds revealed the presence of a branch of the polar jet stream flowing northeastward over the region. Strong southwesterly winds interacting with the topography of the Brooks Range created a standing wave which led to the formation of the banner cloud.

In a comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images (below), note the significantly warmer 3.74 µm cloud-top brightness temperatures — as much as 40 to 50ºC warmer at 2009 UTC when the sun angle was highest over Alaska — caused by enhanced solar reflectance off the very small ice crystals at the top of the banner cloud.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-15 (GOES-West) Water Vapor (6.5 µm) and Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images (below) showed that a large banner cloud had persisted downwind of the Brooks Range fpr much of the day.

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm, top) and Infrared Window (10.7 µm, bottom) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm, top) and Infrared Window (10.7 µm, bottom) images [click to play animation | MP4]

Blowing dust from the Copper River Valley in Alaska

November 1st, 2018 |

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

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

Strong gap winds accelerating out of the Copper River Valley along the southern coast of Alaska were lofting fine particles of glacial silt/sand and transporting those aerosols southwestward across the Gulf of Alaska on 31 October and 01 November 2018. A sequence of NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images viewed using RealEarth (above) showed that the plume was more widespread on 01 November.

A comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images (below) showed the plume at 2022 UTC on 01 November. The map overlay has been removed from one set of images, to better reveal the dust plume source region. Note that the plume appeared much warmer (darker shades of red)  in the Shortwave Infrared image — this is due to enhanced solar reflectance off the small dust particles. Since airborne dust is generally transparent at longer infrared wavelengths, only the thickest portion of the plume exhibited a subtle signature on the 11.45 µm image.

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]

The surface visibility briefly dropped to 3 miles at Middleton Island (PAMD) around the time of the Suomi NPP VIIRS images. as gusty north-northeasterly winds carried the plume over that location (below). Although Cordova (station identifier PACV) is only about 20 miles northwest of the Copper River Delta, the localized gap winds did not affect that site (where wind speeds were 3 knots or less the entire day).

Time series plot of surface observations at Middleton Island [click to enlarge]

Time series of surface observations at Middleton Island [click to enlarge]

ASCAT surface scatterometer winds (source) from Metop-A and Metop-B (below) showed speeds in the 25-30 knot range where the gap winds were exiting the Copper River Delta.

Metop-A and Metop-B ASCAT surface scatterometer winds [click to enlarge]

Metop-A and Metop-B ASCAT surface scatterometer winds [click to enlarge]

A toggle between Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Infrared Brightness Temperature Difference (11-12 µm) images (source) at 2204 UTC on 01 November (below) showed a subtle BTD signal within the more dense center portion of the plume, due to the silicate composition of some of the airborne particulate matter.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Infrared Brightness Temperature Difference (11-12 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Infrared Brightness Temperature Difference (11-12 µm) images [click to enlarge]

VIIRS Aerosol Optical Thickness (AOT) products from the eIDEA site (below) revealed larger AOT values on 01 November.

VIIRS Aerosol Optical Thickness product [click to enlarge]

VIIRS Aerosol Optical Thickness product [click to enlarge]

The gap winds were caused by a strong gradient between cold high pressure over Interior Alaska/Yukon and an occluding gale force low pressure system in the Gulf of Alaska (surface analyses: WPC)| OPC). GOES-15 (GOES-West) Visible (0.63 µm) images (below) showed the circulation of the low, and surface observations highlighted the cold air over snow-covered inland areas. While the dust plume was faintly apparent, it did not show up as well with the lower spatial resolution and large viewing angle of GOES-15.

GOES-15 Visible (0.63 µm) images [click to play animation]

GOES-15 Visible (0.63 µm) images [click to play animation]

A similar — though more prolonged and intense — event was noted in October 2016.

Hurricane Walaka

October 1st, 2018 |

GOES-15 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-15 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-15 (GOES-West) Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images (above) showed the formation of a well-defined eye of Hurricane Walaka during a period of rapid intensification (ADT | SATCON) from 0000-2330 UTC on 01 October 2018; Walaka was classified a Category 5 hurricane as of the 02 October 00 UTC advisory. Walaka was moving over very warm water with Sea Surface Temperatures of 30ºC.

A 1536 UTC DMSP-16 SSMIS Microwave (85 GHz) image from the CIMSS Tropical Cyclones site (below) revealed a small eye (reported to be 20 nautical miles in diameter at 21 UTC).

DMSP-16 SSMIS (85 GHz) Microwave image [click to enlarge]

DMSP-16 SSMIS (85 GHz) Microwave image [click to enlarge]

A side-by-side comparison of JMA Himawari-8 and GOES-15 Infrared Window images (below) showed Walaka from 2 different satellite perspectives — the superior spatial resolution of Himawari-8 (2 km, vs 4 km for GOES-15) was offset by the much larger viewing angle. Cloud-top infrared brightness temperatures were -80ºC and colder (shades of violet) from both satellites early in the animation, but warmed somewhat into the -70 to -75ºC range by 00 UTC on 02 October.

Infrared Window images from Himawari-8 (10.3 µm, left) and GOES-15 (10.7 µm, right) [click to play animation | MP4]

Infrared Window images from Himawari-8 (10.3 µm, left) and GOES-15 (10.7 µm, right) [click to play animation | MP4]

===== 02 October Update =====

NOAA-20 VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Walaka remained classified as a Category 5 hurricane until the 15 UTC advisory on 02 October, when it was assigned Category 4 status after some weakening as a result of an overnight eyewall replacement cycle. A toggle between NOAA-20 VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images (above; courtesy of William Straka, CIMSS) showed the storm at 1240 UTC or 2:40 am local time.

GOES-15 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images (below) showed the northward motion of Waleka. Given that the storm was forecast to pass very close to Johnston Atoll, the US Coast Guard was dispatched to evacuate personnel on Johnston Island.

GOES-15 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images; the white circle shows the location of Johnston Atoll [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-15 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images; the white circle shows the location of Johnston Atoll [click to play animation | MP4]

The MIMIC-TC product (below) showed the eyewall replacement cycle during the 0000-1445 UTC period.

MIMIC-TC morphed microwave product [click to play animation]

MIMIC-TC morphed microwave product [click to play animation]

Around 1830 UTC, a toggle between GOES-15 Infrared (10.7 µm) and GPM GMI Microwave (85 GHz) images (below) showed a small eye, with evidence of a larger outer eyewall suggesting that another eyewall replacement cycle was taking place.

GOES-15 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) and GPM GMI Microwave (85 GHz) images [click to enlarge]

GOES-15 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) and GPM GMI Microwave (85 GHz) images [click to enlarge]