Moist air over the tropical western Pacific Ocean

July 22nd, 2021 |
MIMIC Total Precipitable Water, 0000 UTC 21 July – 1200 UTC 22 July

Microwave estimates of total precipitable water over the western Pacific Ocean (available here) show a moist airmass — out of which Typhoon In-Fa (seen near Taiwan in the animation) emerged — over the western Pacific Ocean. (The circulation of Tropical cyclone Cempaka is also apparent near the Gulf of Tonkin) This rich moisture has led to very heavy rains and Flash Flood alerts on the island of Guam (at 13.4 N, 144.5 E). Are there any indications that a new tropical cyclone will emerge out of the moisture?

The toggle below shows Himawari-8 10.41 µm “Clean Window” infrared imagery (notice In-Fa in the northwest part of the image). A distinct trough is apparent in the scatterometery north of the Marianas islands (and north of 20 N latitude), with west-southwesterly surface winds bordered by east-southeasterlies to the north. Weaker winds are indicated south of Guam. (For a recent primer on Scatterometer winds, click here; ASCAT winds can be found online here)

ASCAT Scatterometry winds and Himawari-8 Band 13 infrared (10.41 µm)imagery, 1200 UTC on 22 July 2021

NOAA-20 overflew this region at 1600 UTC on 22 July. The imagery below shows Tropopause Heights as well as Total Precipitable water — along with Band 13 imagery (over a different location) at that time. NUCAPS estimates of TPW are in the 60-70 mm range (in agreement with the MIMIC animation above); Very high tropopauses are Equatorward of 20 N Latitude.

A ribbon of small wind shear exists, as shown in the 200-850 wind shear analysis below, taken from the CIMSS Tropical Website. Meteorologists continue to monitor this region of tropical activity.

200-850 mb wind shear, 1800 UTC on 22 July 2021, over the western Pacific Ocean.

Aerosol Optical Depth and surface visibility

July 22nd, 2021 |
GOES-16 Aerosol Optical Depth and GOES-16 Band 2 Visible (0.64 µm) imagery, 1401 UTC on 22 July 2021

The image above shows the Level 2 GOES-R product, Aerosol Optical Depth (AOD), a product created in clear skies, overlain with the GOES-16 Visible imagery from the same time. AOD measures the extinction of light via scattering and absorption by small particles in the atmosphere, and it can be used as a proxy for particles smaller than 2.5 µm in diameter (PM25). The red regions show the highest values. The plot below shows surface observations of ceilings (plotted to the left of the circles) and visibility (plotted below the circles) at the same time as the AOD image above. Is there a relationship?

Look at the string of lower visibilities stretching along the North Carolina/South Carolina border, extending westward to Tennessee and then northward into Illinois. This is the region where AOD exceeds about 0.4 — cyan in the enhancement used above. In this instance, AOD can be used to highlight regions where surface visibilities are most restricted by aerosols. (Some of these aerosols are likely from smoke. However, this product does not tell you what kind of aerosol is there, only that it is causing extinction).

Surface observations of ceilings and visibilities, 1401 UTC on 22 July 2021

The toggle below steps through the observations, AOD, and Visible imagery at 1401 UTC. Kudos to Frank Alsheimer, the Science and Operations Office (SOO) in Columbia SC, for alerting us to this case.

Surface observations of ceilings and visibilities, GOES-16 Aerosol Optical Depth and GOES-16 Band 2 Visible (0.64 µm) imagery, 1401 UTC on 22 July 2021

True-color imagery, below, (saved in this case from the CSPP Geosphere site, using this link) also shows the extent of the aerosol-rich air.

GOES-16 ‘True-Color’ imagery at 1401 UTC on 22 July 2021

The relationship between AOD values and surface visibility persisted on 23 July 2021, below.

GOES-16 Aerosol Optical Depth and GOES-16 Band 2 Visible (0.64 µm) imagery, 1201 UTC on 23 July 2021

Creating RGB imagery using SIFT and Geo2Grid

July 8th, 2021 |

The use of routine multispectral geostationary satellite imagery over the United States has increased the routine use of Red/Green/Blue composite imagery to describe and evaluate surface and atmospheric conditions. This blog post will detail how to create new (or old) RGB composites using two UW-Madison/CIMSS/SSEC-developed tools: The Satellite Information and Familiarization Tool (SIFT; Journal article link) and Geo2Grid (Previous blog posts showing Geo2Grid examples are here). The scene to be highlighted is shown above in the GOES-16 Cirrus Band; it was chosen because of the interesting parallel bands in the Cirrus, features that can identify regions of turbulence. A larger-scale view of the data (created using CSPP Geosphere) is here (for the 1.37 µm Cirrus band) or here (for True Color).

SIFT has a very useful (and easy!) RGB generator.  For this case involving cirrus, I decided to create an RGB using the Split Window Difference (10.3 µm – 12.3 µm, Band 13 – Band 15) (shown here) that has been used to identify cirrus for quite a while (link to journal article), the cirrus band 4, and also the Snow/Ice channel Band 5 (1.61 µm).  After downloading SIFT and importing the data (and creating the split window difference field — here’s a blog post that describes how to do that), a SIFT user can create an RGB and tinker with the bounds.  Changing the bounds and the gamma causes a simultaneous change in the RGB in the SIFT display window, so it’s not difficult to iterate to a satisfactory solution.  As shown below, the RGB created has the Split Window Difference as the red component, with values from 0 (no red) to 12.0 (saturated red) and a Gamma value of 2;  the cirrus channel (C04) is the green component with values from 0.27 (no green) to 0 (saturated green) and a Gamma value of 2;  the snow/ice channel (C05) is the blue component with values from 0.0 (no blue) to 0.40 (saturated blue) and a Gamma value of 1.

SIFT RGB Creation window

The RGB created in SIFT using these values is shown below.  Maybe using maximum green — a color one’s eyes are usually particularly adept at viewing — for no signal in the cirrus channel was not the best choice.  But there is nice contrast between the background and the thin cirrus, and an obvious difference between the parallel lines of cirrus in the middle of the image and other clouds, such as the cirrus at the western edge of the image!

“Cirrus” RGB at 1411 UTC on 8 July 2021 (click to enlarge)

How do you create something similar using Geo2Grid?  Step 1, of course, is always to download and install the software package.  To see what products can be created with geo2grid, enter this command:  ./ -r abi_l1b -w geotiff --list-products -f /path/to/the/directory/holding/GOESR/Radiance/Files/*syyyydddhhmm*.nc .  Let’s assume all 16 channels from ABI are available.  Important caveat: Geo2Grid will only work on one data time at a time, so specify your year/julian day/hour/minute with sufficient stringency.

RGB product definitions are found in yaml files within the Geo2Grid directory. Ones for abi in particular are found in $GEO2GRID_HOME/etc/satpy/composites/abi.yaml in which file you would enter something what is shown below for a product called ‘cirrustest’;  note that it has three channels:  the first is a difference between C13 and C15 (that is, the Split Window Difference);  the second is C04 (cirrus channel) and the third is C05 (snow/ice channel). This is the same as in the SIFT definitions.

Within $GEO2GRID_HOME/etc/satpy/enhancements/abi.yaml there is a further definition of this RGB.  The crude stretch defines the bounds of the RGB:  Red includes values from 0 – 12;  Green from 27 — that is, a reflectance of 0.27, or 27% — to 0 (note that it is inverted);  Blue from 0 to 40.  In addition, Gamma values are specified:  0.5, 0.5 and 1.

Two important things to note:  Gamma in SIFT follows National Weather Service and JMA conventions.  Gamma in Geo2Grid follows EUMETSAT conventions. Thus, one is the reciprocal of the other.  Also, note the _abi suffix in the abi.yaml file name in enhancements, i.e., cirrustest_abi, to specify the satellite.

After making these changes to the two abi.yaml files, and rerunning this command:  ./ -r abi_l1b -w geotiff --list-products -f /path/to/the/directory/holding/GOESR/Radiance/Files/*syyyydddhhmm*.nc, you should see a new possibility: cirrustest (or whatever you have named your new RGB). Then you run Geo2Grid commands to create the cirrustest RGB (with the -p cirrustest flag.  The commands below sequentially create the grid for the analysis, create the tiff file, georeference it with coastlines (none, in this case over the Gulf) and latitude/longitude lines, and annotate it.

../ CIRRUSRGBtest -88.3 26.6 500 -500 960 720 > $GEO2GRID_HOME/CIRRUSRGBtest.conf
../ -r abi_l1b -w geotiff -p cirrustest C04 -g CIRRUSRGBtest --grid-configs $GEO2GRID_HOME/CIRRUSRGBtest.conf --method nearest -f /arcdata/goes_restricted/grb/goes16/2021/2021_07_08_189/abi/L1b/RadC/*s20211891411*.nc
../ --add-borders --borders-outline='blue' --borders-resolution=f --add-grid --grid-text-size 20 --grid-d 5.0 5.0 --grid-D 5.0 5.0 GOES-16_ABI_RadC_cirrustest_20210708_1411??_CIRRUSRGBtest.tif
convert GOES-16_ABI_RadC_cirrustest_20210708_1411??_CIRRUSRGBtest.png -gravity Southwest -fill yellow -pointsize 14 -annotate +8+24 "1411 UTC 8 July 2021 Cirrus RGB" GOES-16_ABI_RadC_cirrustest_20210708_1411_CIRRUSRGBtest_annot_2.png

The final image from Geo2Grid is shown below. Its geographic coverage is slightly different than in SIFT, above, but the two RGBs have similar looks.

‘Cirrustest’ RGB at 1411 UTC on 8 July 2021 (Click to enlarge)

Using Polar-Orbiting Satellite Imagery from Direct Broadcast sites to understand Elsa

July 6th, 2021 |

Suomi NPP Adapative Day Night Band imagery, 0636 UTC on 6 July 2021 (Click to enlarge)

AOML (The Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory) maintains a Direct Broadcast antenna site that holds satellite imagery (created using CSPP — the Community Satellite Processing Package) created when a tropical system — such as Elsa — is within the download footprint of the AOML antenna.  This imagery — particularly in the microwave — is useful to describe the system’s structure. The Day Night Band image above, from Suomi NPP at 0636 UTC, shows a non-symmetric storm with the bulk of clouds to the east and south of the surface center (at that time near 23.9 N, 82.3 W, i.e., in the Florida Straits to the south of Dry Tortuga).  Rainfall, as diagnosed using MIRS algorithms and microwave ATMS (Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder) data from NPP, below, shows the asymmetry of the storm as well:  almost all the diagnosed rain is east of the center. (It’s helpful that both infrared imagers and microwave sounders are on the same satellite!)

Suomi NPP ATMS-derived Rain Rate, 0637 UTC on 6 July 2021 (Click to enlarge)

The GCOM-W1 (supported by JAXA) satellite also scanned Elsa shortly before 0700 UTC on 6 July.  Microwave observations at ~36 GHz, below, and at 89 GHz, farther below, can help to characterize the structure of the storm. Indeed, observations at/around 85-89 GHz are used in the MIMIC TC product as described here.

GCOM AMSR-2 observations at 36.5 GHz, 0649 UTC on 6 July 2021 (Click to enlarge)

GCOM AMSR-2 observations at 89.0 GHz, 0649 UTC on 6 July 2021 (Click to enlarge)

In addition to the AOML site, the CIMSS Direct Broadcast site contains Polar Orbiting imagery in near-real time. The afternoon 88.2 GHz image from (NOAA-20) ATMS is shown below.  Cold cloud tops associated with strong scattering by ice of the 88.2 GHz signal are apparent.

NOAA-20 ATMS Channel 16 Brightness Temperature, 1845 UTC on 6 July 2021 (Click to enlarge)

There are a multitude of polar orbiters such that observations show up in clusters of time.  However, for a better time animation, it’s still best to rely on GOES-16!  The animation below, from CSPP Geosphere, shows a sheared storm south and west of Ft Myers FL.  Indeed, an 1800 UTC 6 July 2021 shear analysis from the CIMSS Tropical website (here, from this site), shows westerly shear of 25-30 knots.

GOES-16 True-Color imagery, 6 July 2021 from 1730 to 1920 UTC (Click to animate)

For the latest information on Elsa, consult the webpages of the National Hurricane Center, or the SSEC/CIMSS Tropical Weather Page.