Exploring the effects of GOES-17 parallax over Alaska

June 27th, 2020 |

GOES-17 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and

Topography, GOES-17 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 (GOES-West) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images (above) displayed the formation of an orographic rotor cloud downwind (north-northeast) of the Kigluaik and Bendeleben Mountains in the Seward Peninsula of Alaska on 27 June 2020. Even though the highest terrain in those mountain ranges was only 3700-4700 feet (1.1-1.4 km), the coldest cloud-top infrared brightness temperatures within the rotor cloud feature were around -50 to -51ºC.

A plot of rawinsonde data from Nome (below) showed the strong southwesterly winds that existed within most the troposphere on that day. The tropopause temperatures were around -51ºC at altitudes of 9.4-9.6 km — indicating that these high-altitude rotor clouds were forced by vertically-propagating waves initiated by interaction of the anomalously-strong southerly/southwesterly lower-tropospheric flow with the west-to-east oriented mountain ranges.

Plot of rawinsonde data from Nome, Alaska [click to enlarge]

Plot of rawinsonde data from Nome, Alaska [click to enlarge]

Comparisons of topography and Visible/Infrared images from Suomi NPP and GOES-17 around 1320 UTC and 2140 UTC are shown below. Since there is generally very little parallax offset associated with imagery from polar-orbiting satellites (such as Suomi NPP), the rotor cloud appeared closer to the topography that helped to force development of that cloud feature.

Topography, Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and GOES-17 "Red" Visible (0.64 µm) images around 1320 UTC [click to enlarge]

Topography, Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and GOES-17 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images around 1320 UTC [click to enlarge]

Topography, Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) and GOES-17 "Clean" Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images around 1320 UTC [click to enlarge]

Topography, Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) and GOES-17 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images around 1320 UTC [click to enlarge]

Topography, Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and GOES-17 "Red" Visible (0.64 µm) images around 2140 UTC [click to enlarge]

Topography, Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and GOES-17 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images around 2140 UTC [click to enlarge]

Topography, Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) and GOES-17 "Clean" Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images around 2140 UTC [click to enlarge]

Topography, Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) and GOES-17 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images around 2140 UTC [click to enlarge]

Plots of GOES-17 parallax correction vectors and displacements (in km) for a 30,00-feet (9.1 km) cloud feature at select points over the Alaska region (from this site) are shown below. For such a cloud feature over the Seward Peninsula, the parallax offset would be about 40 km (25 miles) — which closely corresponded to the offset seen between the GOES-17 and Suomi NPP images shown above.

Plots of GOES-17 parallax correction vectors and displacements (in km) for a 30,000-foot (9.1 km) cloud feature at select points over the Alaska region [click to enlarge]

Plots of GOES-17 parallax correction vectors and displacements (in km) for a 30,000-foot (9.1 km) cloud feature at select points over the Alaska region [click to enlarge]

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