Snow cover in the Brooks Range and North Slope of Alaska

September 2nd, 2018 |

Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images on 01 and 02 September [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images on 01 and 02 September [click to enlarge]

A low moved eastward across the Beaufort Sea on 01 September 2018, bringing a cold front southward across the North Slope and Brooks Range in far northern Alaska (surface analyses). A sequence of Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images (above) showed the clearing of high/cold clouds in the wake of the frontal passage.

The upslope flow of cold air helped to generate accumulating snowfall across that region — prompting a Winter Storm Warning to be issued for the eastern Brooks Range, where 4-8 inches was expected at higher elevations — and some of the resulting snow cover was seen on a Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) image at 1415 UTC or 6:15 am local time on 02 September (below). A comparison with the corresponding VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) image and Topography is also shown. The darker shades of brown on the topography image correspond to elevations of 6000-8000 feet in the Brooks Range.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm), Infrared Window (11.45 µm) and Topography images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm), Infrared Window (11.45 µm) and Topography images [click to enlarge]

Later in the day on 02 September, additional clearing of patchy low clouds revealed more of the snow cover, as seen in a toggle between VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Topography images (below). Supercooled water cloud droplets are efficient reflectors of incoming solar radiation, making patches of low cloud appear darker shades of gray on the Shortwave Infrared image (helping to identify low clouds over snow cover).

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

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

At 2124 UTC (or 1:24 pm local time), a 30-meter resolution Landsat-8 False Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) image viewed using RealEarth (below) provided a more detailed view of a portion of the snow cover. Snow and ice appear as shades of cyan in this type of RGB image — which is created by combining Landsat bands 6 (1.61 µm), 5 (0.865 µm), and 4 (0.655 µm) as Red, Green, and Blue — and numerous small ice floes can also be seen off the coast.

Landsat-8 False Color RGB image [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 False Color RGB image [click to enlarge]

On a side note, farther to the west an interesting pattern of contrails was seen in VIIRS Visible and Infrared Window images at 2046 UTC (below). On the Visible image, note that the darker contrail shadows cast onto the surface are displaced about 15 miles to the north (due to the low sun angle); the contrail features exhibited Infrared brightness temperatures of -10 to -15ºC. These contrail patterns were generated by military aircraft performing training exercises: similar features have been noted over California and North Dakota.

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

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

A curved portion of one of these contrails was seen on web camera images looking south from Atqasuk (below).

 

Carr Fire in northern California

August 11th, 2018 |
GOES-15, GOES-14, GOES-17 and GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-15, GOES-14, GOES-17 and GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

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

A comparison of GOES-15 (GOES-West), GOES-14, GOES-17 and GOES-16 (GOES-East) Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above) showed the thermal anomaly or “hot spot” (dark black to red pixels) associated with the Carr Fire in northern California on 11 August 2018. A GOES-16 Mesoscale Domain Sector was providing images at 1-minute intervals. This comparison demonstrates how fire detection can be affected by both satellite viewing angle and shortwave infrared detector spatial resolution (4 km at satellite sub-point for the GOES-14/15 Imager, vs 2 km for the GOES-16/17 ABI).

A toggle between 30-meter resolution Landsat-8 False Color and Thermal Infrared (10.9 µm) imagery viewed using RealEarth (below) showed new fire activity (clusters of red pixels) along the northeastern edge of the Carr Fire burn scar on the False Color image, as well as smoke plumes drifting northeastward; the heat signatures (brighter white pixels) of smaller fires hidden by the smoke were more clearly ssen on the Thermal Infrared image. As of this date the Carr Fire was the 8th largest and 6th most destructive fire on record in California, and was responsible for 8 fatalities.

Landsat-8 False Color and Thermal Infrared (10.9 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 False Color and Thermal Infrared (10.9 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Holy Fire in southern California, as viewed by 4 GOES

August 9th, 2018 |
Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images from GOES-15, GOES-14, GOES-17 and GOES-16 [click to play MP4 animation]

Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images from GOES-15, GOES-14, GOES-17 and GOES-16 [click to play MP4 animation]

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

GOES-15 (GOES-West), GOES-14, GOES-17 and GOES-16 (GOES-East) Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above) showed the thermal anomaly or “hot spot” (black to yellow to red pixels) associated with the Holy Fire that was burning in southern California on 09 August 2018. This comparison demonstrates how fire detection can be affected by both satellite viewing angle and shortwave infrared detector spatial resolution (4 km at satellite sub-point for the GOES-14/15 Imager, vs 2 km for the GOES-16/17 ABI).

On the previous day, a 30-meter resolution Landsat-8 False Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) image visualized using RealEarth (below) provided a more detailed view of the Holy Fire, showing active fires (brighter red) around the northern and eastern perimeter of the burn scar and the smoke plume that was drifting to the north and northwest.

Landsat-8 False Color image [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 False Color RGB image [click to enlarge]

Smoke from Mendocino Complex fires in California

August 4th, 2018 |

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, left) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, right) images, with hourly plots of surface observations [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above) showed the smoke and thermal anomalies or “hot spots” (red pixels) associated with the Mendocino Complex burning in Northern California on 04 August 2018. Smoke was reducing the surface visibility to 2.5 miles at nearby Sacramento International Airport KSMF and Marysville KMYV. As of 7pm local time on 04 August the Mendocino Complex had burned 229,000 acres.

A 30-meter resolution Landsat-8 False Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) image viewed using RealEarth (below) showed active burning along the eastern edge of the Ranch Fire (part of the Mendocino Complex) at 1845 UTC. The larger fire was producing a pyrocumulus cloud in addition to the dense smoke plume drifting northeastward.

Landsat-8 False Color image [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 False Color RGB image [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Upper-level (6.2 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Low-level (7.3 µm) Water Vapor images (below) revealed a southwest-to-northeast oriented band of moisture and fast flow associated with a middle to upper-tropospheric jet streak that was moving over the region (300 hPa analyses). “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images showed the smoke plume drifting rapidly northeastward over California and Nevada, and visible Derived Motion Winds — which are calculated for pressure levels at and below 700 hPa —  tracked the smoke moving as fast as 58 knots at 2337 UTC. This speed was faster than 00 UTC winds at or below 700 hPa on rawinsonde data from either Oakland KOAK or Reno KREV.

GOES-16 Upper-level (6.2 µm, top left), Mid-level (6.9 µm, top right), Low-level (7.3 µm, bottom left) Water Vapor and "Red" Visible with Derived Motion Winds (0.64 µm, bottom right) [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Upper-level (6.2 µm, top left), Mid-level (6.9 µm, top right), Low-level (7.3 µm, bottom left) Water Vapor images and “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, bottom right) images with Derived Motion Winds [click to play MP4 animation]

===== 07 August Update =====

NOAA-20 VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm), Near-Infrared (1.61 µm and 2.25 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.75 µm) images [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm), Near-Infrared (1.61 µm and 2.25 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.75 µm) images [click to enlarge]

A comparison of NOAA-20 VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm), Near-Infrared (1.61 µm and 2.25 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.75 µm) images (above; courtesy of William Straka, CIMSS) showed the nighttime glow and thermal signatures of the Mendocino Complex fires on 07 August 2018. As of 8:30am the fire had burned over 290,000 acres, becoming the largest wildfire on record in the state of California.