Canadian wildfire smoke across the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes

July 7th, 2019 |

GOES-16 True Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 True Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 (GOES-East) True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images from the AOS site (above) showed the signature of dense smoke from Canadian wildfires that was being transported southward across parts of the Upper Midwest on 06 July 2019. While much of the smoke remained aloft, some of it was reaching the surface and restricting the visibility at locations such as International Falls, Baudette and Thief River Falls in northern Minnesota and Fargo in eastern North Dakota.

On the following day, the smoke settled farther southward over Wisconsin and Michigan (below). Much of the smoke again remained aloft, but continued to persist within the boundary layer at Baudette and International Falls — and it did briefly restrict the surface visibility at Green Bay in northeastern Wisconsin.

GOES-16 True Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 True Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

===== 08 July Update =====

GOES-16 True Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 True Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

On 08 July the smoke covered much of the Great Lakes and parts of adjacent states (above).

===== 09 July Update =====

GOES-16 True Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 True Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

On 09 July, a gradual decreasing trend in the areal coverage and density of smoke over the Great Lakes was seen (above). A Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB image acquired and processed by the CIMSS/SSEC Direct Broadcast ground station (below) showed that some of the smoke had moved over the Mid-Atlantic states and out across the adjacent offshore waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB image [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB image [click to enlarge]

NUCAPS Profiles are back in AWIPS

July 2nd, 2019 |

1200 UTC Soundings from KGYX (Grey Maine) on 2 July 2019 and 1600 UTC NUCAPS sounding from nearby, showing changes in the thermodynamics (Click to enlarge)

Back in late March 2019, the Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS) suffered an anomaly such that the mid-wave portion of the electromagnetic spectrum (a part that includes channels sensitive to water vapor) was not scanned properly. Thus, NUCAPS soundings created from Suomi-NPP were lost (link). Today, NUCAPS soundings created using NOAA-20 (which has the same instruments as Suomi-NPP) began flowing into AWIPS. Data from shortly after 1500 UTC were the first to appear.

NUCAPS Soundings over the northeastern United States at 1629 UTC on 2 July 2019 (Click to enlarge)

NUCAPS profiles from NOAA-20 are processed somewhat differently than those from Suomi-NPP as far as latency: NOAA-20 NUCAPS profiles show up more quickly — typically within an hour of the observations time — in AWIPS than NPP NUCAPS profiles did. This is important because the thermodynamic information in these mid-afternoon observations is important in judging destabilization relative to morning soundings.

When Suomi NPP was launched, two independent sets of electronics were present on CrIS; the ‘A’-side set of electronics were used until March; the ‘B’-side electronics have been used since June, and mid-wave observations from Suomi-NPP’s CrIS are now available at this site. However, NUCAPS soundings are not yet being created from Suomi-NPP because the A-side and B-side electronics have different statistical behavior that must be accounted for in the Regression used to start the NUCAPS processing.

Eruption of the Raikoke volcano in the Kuril Islands

June 21st, 2019 |

Himawari-8 False Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

Himawari-8 False Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

For the first time since 1924, a major eruption of the Raikoke volcano occurred around 1800 UTC on 21 June 2019. Himawari-8 False Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images from the NOAA/CIMSS Volcanic Cloud Monitoring site (above) showed — via the brighter yellow areas — that a large portion of the volcanic plume was rich in both ash and sulfur dioxide (SO2). The Tokyo VAAC estimated the maximum ash height to be 43,000 feet (~13 km) above ground level — and CALIPSO CALIOP data indicated a maximum ash height around 12 km shortly after 02 UTC on 22 June (between 45-50º N latitude and 159-161º E longitude).

A comparison of an Aqua MODIS False Color RGB image with the corresponding Ash Height, Ash Loading and Ash Effective Radius retrieved products at 0310 UTC on 22 June (below) indicated maximum ash height values of 18-20 km (black pixels) immediately downwind of the eruption site. Maximum Himawari-8 Ash Height values were in the 16-18 km range.

Aqua MODIS False Color RGB, Ash Height, Ash Loading and Ash Effective Radius at 0310 UTC on 22 June [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS False Color RGB image with Ash Height, Ash Loading and Ash Effective Radius retrieved products [click to enlarge]

In a comparison of Himawari-8 Upper-level (6.2 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Low-level (7.3 µm) Water Vapor images (below), since the 7.3 µm spectral band is also sensitive to SO2 absorption, those images showed a good signature of the leading filament of volcanic SO2 as it was transported east-southeastward over the North Pacific Ocean.

Water Vapor images from Himawari-8: Upper-level (6.2 µm, top), Mid-level (6.9 µm, middle) and Low-level (7.3 µm, bottom) [click to play animation | MP4]

Water Vapor images from Himawari-8: Upper-level (6.2 µm, top), Mid-level (6.9 µm, middle) and Low-level (7.3 µm, bottom) [click to play animation | MP4]

Similarly, the GOES–17 (GOES-West) Low-level Water Vapor (7.3 µm) images also showed the filament of volcanic SO2 that was being drawn into the circulation of a Gale Force Low south of the Aleutian Islands. As a result, the Anchorage VAAC issued aviation Volcanic Ash Advisories that covered large areas of the North Pacific Ocean and southern Bering Sea; they continued to estimate the maximum ash height to be 43,000 feet. Around 16 UTC on 22 June, CALPSO CALIOP data sampled a small portion of the ash at an altitude near 17 km (between 45-50º N latitude, 155-157º W longitude).

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

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

VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images from NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP as viewed using RealEarth are shown below at approximately 01 UTC, 02 UTC and 03 UTC on 22 June. The combination of True Color and Infrared imagery indicated that volcanic ash was present a multiple altitudes.

VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images from NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP [click to enlarge]

VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images from NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP at 01, 02 and 03 UTC on 22 June [click to enlarge]

Due to the highly-oblique satellite viewing angle of GOES-17, multiple Raikoke eruption pulses of significant vertical extent were clearly evident in GOES-17 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (below).

GOES-17

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

A somewhat less oblique view from the west was provided by the NSMC FY-2G satellite (below).

NSMC FY-2G Visible (0.73 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

NSMC FY-2G Visible (0.73 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

Himawari-8 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (below) provided another interesting view of the multiple eruption pulses — and since the eruption began around 5 AM local time, long early morning shadows were cast by the initial bursts of tall volcanic clouds. A faster animation revealed shock waves propagating radially outward from the eruption site.

Himawari-8

Himawari-8 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]




Incidentally, an astronaut aboard the International Space Station took a photo of the volcanic cloud at 2246 UTC on 21 June — and the two Visible images that bracket that time (2240 and 2250 UTC) from GOES-17 and Himawari-8 are shown below.

Photo taken by an astronaut on the International Space Station [click to enlarge]

Photo taken by an astronaut on the International Space Station at 2246 UTC [click to enlarge]

GOES-17 Visible (0.64 µm) images at 2240 and 2250 UTC {click to enlarge]

GOES-17 Visible (0.64 µm) images at 2240 and 2250 UTC {click to enlarge]

Himawari-8 Visible (0.64 µm) images at 2240 and 2250 UTC {click to enlarge]

Himawari-8 Visible (0.64 µm) images at 2240 and 2250 UTC {click to enlarge]

===== 23 June Update =====

Himawari-8 False Color RGB images [click to play MP4 animation]

Himawari-8 False Color RGB images [click to play MP4 animation]

A 2-day animation of 10-minute Himawari-8 False Color images (above) showed the ash- and SO2-rich volcanic plume (brighter shades of yellow) eventually being transported northeastward across the western Aleutian Islands and circulating cyclonically over the Bering Sea. Similarly, this volcanic cloud transport was also seen in the corresponding GOES-17 False Color imagery.

===== 24 June Update =====

GOES-17 SO2 RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 SO2 RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 SO2 RGB imagery (above) continued to show a signature of the volcanic cloud (brighter shades of yellow) from the Raikoke eruption over a large portion of the Bering Sea on 24 June. Volcanic ash advisories were issued for flight altitudes as high as 40,000 feet — and a pilot report of SO2 over the Bering Sea at 47,000 feet was received at 1822 UTC (below).

GOES-17 SO2 RGB, Split Clout Top Phase (11.2-8.4 µm) and Dust RGB images, with a pilot report of SO2 [click to enlarge]

GOES-17 SO2 RGB, Split Clout Top Phase (11.2-8.4 µm) and Dust RGB images, with a pilot report of SO2 [click to enlarge]

===== 25 June Update =====

GOES-17 SO2 RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 SO2 RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 SO2 RGB images (above) showed the persistent signature of the SO2-rich volcanic cloud as much of it remained within the circulation of a quasi-stationary low pressure system in the Bering Sea.

An interesting Pilot Report north of the Aleutians at 36,000 feet (below) noted thin grey-colored layers below the altitude of the aircraft. GOES-17 Air Mass RGB images showed a subtle brown/tan plume — could this have been a thin filament of ash from the Raikoke eruption that was drawn into the circulation of the Bering Sea low?

GOES-17 SO2 RGB, Air Mass RGB, Dust RGB and Split Cloud Top Phase (11.2-8.4 µm) images, with a 2008 UTC Pilot Report [click to enlarge]

GOES-17 SO2 RGB, Air Mass RGB, Dust RGB and Split Cloud Top Phase (11.2-8.4 µm) images, with a 2008 UTC Pilot Report [click to enlarge]

Another Pilot Report farther to the west at 2119 UTC (below) was close to the southern edge of the GOES-17 SO2 signatures, but no sulphur odor was reported; however, they did note the presence of an apparent ash layer south of Shemya in the western Aleutian Islands.

GOES-17 SO2 RGB and Split Cloud Top Phase (11.2-8.4 µm) images, with a 2119 UTC Pilot Report [click to enlarge]

GOES-17 SO2 RGB and Split Cloud Top Phase (11.2-8.4 µm) images, with a 2119 UTC Pilot Report [click to enlarge]

Wildfire in the Seward Peninsula of Alaska

June 16th, 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) showed a smoke plume and pyrocumulus clouds in addition to the thermal anomaly (or “hot spot”) associated with the lightning-initiated North River wildfire burning in the far eastern Seward Peninsula of Alaska on 16 June 2019. It is interesting to note that shortly after the wildfire exhibited a peak Shortwave Infrared brightness temperature of 94.5ºC at 2124 UTC, a distinct pyrocumulus cloud “jump” was seen in the Visible imagery (which appeared to peak in vertical extent around 2131 UTC, as seen in this short animation).

A sequence of 3 Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Visible (0.64 µm) images (below) also showed the fire thermal anomaly (black to red pixels) and the smoke plume.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Visible (0.64 µm) images, with surface observations plotted in yellow [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Visible (0.64 µm) images, with surface observations plotted in yellow [click to enlarge]

In fact, the south-southwestward transport of smoke restricted the surface visibility to 5 miles at Unalakeet and 4 miles at St. Michael (below), located about 100 to 150 miles from the fire respectively.

Time series plot of surface observation data from Unalakeet [click to enlarge]

Time series plot of surface observation data from Unalakeet [click to enlarge]

Time series plot of surface observation data from St. Michael [click to enlarge]

Time series plot of surface observation data from St. Michael [click to enlarge]

A NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) image viewed using RealEarth (below) showed significant residual smoke aloft (from the previous day of that wildfire’s growth) arcing westward then southward over the Bering Sea; however, since smoke is effectively transparent at the 11.45 µm Infrared Window wavelength, there was no smoke signature seen in that particular image.

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

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