Rapid ice growth in Lake Erie

January 31st, 2022 |

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images, with surface wind barbs (knots) plotted in cyan [click to play animated GIF | MP4]

GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (above) showed the widespread coverage of ice across Lake Erie on 31 January 2022. Surface winds were generally light across the region, minimizing wind stress on the pack ice. A careful inspection of the imagery revealed some straight pathways cut through the ice by US Coast Guard icebreakers.

An Aqua MODIS True Color RGB image from the MODIS Today site (below) provided a higher-resolution view of the linear icebreaker paths in the western portion of the lake (where the ice was generally thicker).

Aqua MODIS True Color RGB image [click to enlarge]

The entire icebreaker channel was apparently completed sometime before sunrise on 31 January — the western portion was evident in a Sentinel-1A Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Normalized Radar Cross Section (NRCS) image (source) at 2324 UTC on 30 January, and its eastward continuation was seen in a RCM-1 SAR NRCS image at 1136 UTC image on 31 January (below).

SAR NCRS images from Sentinel-1A at 2324 UTC on 30 January and from RCM-1 at 1136 UTC on 31 January [click to enlarge]

A toggle between GOES-16 Visible images at 1801 UTC on 29 January and 31 January (below) showed the marked increase in ice coverage during that 48-hour period.

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images at 1801 UTC on 29 January and 31 January 2022 [click to enlarge]

In fact, a GLERL plot of current Lake Erie ice coverage compared to the historical average (below) showed that the percentage of ice cover had recently become well above average for the date.

Plot of current Lake Erie ice coverage (black) compared to the historical average (red) [click to enlarge]

Early November with little snow

November 7th, 2021 |
BRDF Imagery from MODIS, 7 November 2021 (Click to enlarge)

A MODIS-based true-color cloud-free image, above, from SSEC’s Real Earth (link) shows a distinct lack of snow cover — for early November!!! — over the USA and Canada. These BRDF (Bidirectional Reflectance Distribution Function) fields account for sun angle, viewing angle and surface type; data over the past 16 days are used in this computation. Monitor these fields at the RealEarth link in the coming weeks to see the inevitable (albeit delayed!) increase in snow cover over North America!

Consolidation of ice within Green Bay

March 4th, 2021 |

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (above) showed the wind-driven consolidation of ice within Green Bay during the 03 March04 March 2021 period. Northerly winds in the wake of a cold frontal passage on 03 March led to the fracturing of land-fast ice in the far northern portion of Green Bay — this ice then began drifting south-southwestward.

By sunrise on 04 March, GOES-16 Visible images indicated that the fractured ice had continued to drift farther southward overnight, eventually merging with the land-fast ice that had been covering the southern half of Green Bay; overnight low temperatures in the upper teens to low 20s F likely aided this merger process. Note that some filaments of ice had also migrated through gaps between islands, drifting southward across far western Lake Michigan (just off the coast of Wisconsin).

A toggle between 250-meter resolution Aqua MODIS True Color RGB images (source) on the 2 days is shown below.

Aqua MODIS True Color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS True Color RGB images [click to enlarge]

As an aside, farther inland the tornado damage path from an EF3 tornado in northeastern Wisconsin was still evident, 13.5 years later (below).

Aqua MODIS True Color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS True Color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Ice formation in southern Lake Michigan

February 7th, 2021 |

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (above) revealed an increasing amount of ice coverage within the nearshore waters of southern Lake Michigan on 07 February 2021 — this was due to a recent influx of arctic air across the Upper Midwest and western Great Lakes.

A sequence of VIIRS True Color RGB and False Color RGB images from Suomi-NPP and NOAA-20 (below) provided 375-meter resolution views of the lake ice.

VIIRS True Color RGB and False Color RGB images [click to enlarge]

VIIRS True Color RGB and False Color RGB images [click to enlarge]

The MIRS Sea Ice Concentration product derived from Suomi-NPP ATMS data (below) depicted maximum values of 60-63% (lighter green), which was fairly consistent with the Ice Concentration analysis from GLERL.

MIRS Sea Ice Concentration product derived from Suomi-NPP ATMS data [click to enlarge]

MIRS Sea Ice Concentration product derived from Suomi-NPP ATMS data [click to enlarge]

The Suomi-NPP VIIRS Sea Surface Temperature product (below) revealed values of 34-39ºF along the leading edge of widespread lake effect cloud bands that were producing snowfall in Lower Michigan.

Suomi-NPP VIIRS Sa Surface Temperature product [click to enlarge]

Suomi-NPP VIIRS Sea Surface Temperature product [click to enlarge]

A 250-meter resolution Aqua MODIS True Color RGB image of the ice at 1917 UTC (from the MODIS Today site) is shown below.

Aqua MODIS True Color RGB image [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS True Color RGB image [click to enlarge]

Finally, an overpass of Landsat-8 offered a 30-meter resolution view of a portion of the lake ice near Chicago, as visualized using RealEarth (below).

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

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