Another outbreak of pyrocumulonimbus clouds in Australia

January 4th, 2020 |

Himawari-8

Himawari-8 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, left) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, right) images [click to play animation | MP4]

Following a multi-day outbreak in late December 2019, Australian bushfires flared up again across far eastern Victoria and far southeastern New South Wales (along and ahead of a cold frontal passage) on 04 January 2020. A JMA Himawari-8 Target Sector was positioned over that region, providing images at 2.5-minute intervals — “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images displayed the large smoke plumes with embedded pyro-convection, while Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images revealed the widespread fire thermal anomalies or “hot spots” (clusters of red pixels).

Himawari-8 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.4 µm) images (below) showed the development of 2 pyrocumulonimbus (pyroCb) clouds — the first over southern New South Wales west of Cooma (station identifier YCOM), and the second to the southwest of YCOM (near the border between Victoria and New South Wales). The second pyroCb eventually exhibited cloud-top infrared brightness temperature (IRBT) values of -70ºC and colder (purple pixels). To be classified as a pyroCb, a deep convective cloud must be generated by a large/hot fire, and eventually exhibit cloud-top 10.4 µm IRBTs of -40ºC and colder (thus assuring the heterogeneous nucleation of all supercooled water droplets to ice crystals within the thunderstorm anvil).

Himawari-8 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, top) and "Clean" Infrared Window (10.4 µm, bottom) images [click to play animation | MP4]

Himawari-8 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, top) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.4 µm, bottom) images [click to play animation | MP4]

An aircraft flying very near or through one of these pyroCb clouds experienced severe turbulence:



Farther to the north, another pyroCb developed near Nowra, New South Wales (YSNW) — which briefly exhibited a -40ºC cloud-top IRBT at 0319 UTC, but then re-intensified around 08 UTC (below).

Himawari-8 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, top) and "Clean" Infrared Window (10.4 µm, bottom) images [click to play animation | MP4]

Himawari-8 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, top) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.4 µm, bottom) images [click to play animation | MP4]

In a sequence of VIIRS True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) and Infrared Window (11.45 um) images from NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP as viewed using RealEarth (below), the Nowra pyroCb was less ambiguous during the 03-04 UTC time period — and the aforementioned pair of pyroCbs straddling the border between Victoria and New South Wales were also evident.

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

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

===== 06 January Update =====

GOES-16 Natural Color RGB images + Smoke Detection derived product [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Natural Color RGB images + Smoke Detection derived product [click to play animation | MP4]

On 06 January, GOES-16 (GOES-East) Natural Color RGB images (above) displayed the hazy signature of high-altitude smoke (originating from previous episodes of Australian fires) over parts of Chile and Argentina — and the corresponding GOES-16 Smoke Detection derived product flagged much of this feature as “High Confidence” smoke (red).

In addition, GOES-17 (GOES-West) True Color RGB images created using Geo2Grid (below) showed a dense pall of smoke over the South Pacific Ocean (northeast of New Zealand). This was smoke from the 04 January outbreak of fires.

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

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

===== 08 January Update =====

GOES-17 True Color RGB images, 05-08 January [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 True Color RGB images, 05-08 January [click to play animation | MP4]

Full Disk GOES-17 True Color RGB images from the AOS site (above) showed the slow eastward transport of a dense pall of smoke (hazy shades of tan to light brown) across the South Pacific Ocean during the 05-08 January period.

Late in the day, GOES-17 True Color images also showed a small area of smoke drifting southward across the coast of Antarctica (below).

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

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

This was confirmed by the OMPS Aerosol Index product (below), which displayed a small lobe becoming detached from one of the larger smoke features crossing the South Pacific Ocean.

Suomi NPP OMPS Aerosol Index composites, 04-08 January (credit: Colin Seftor, SSAI)

Suomi NPP OMPS Aerosol Index composites, 04-08 January (credit: Colin Seftor, SSAI)

 

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