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)

 

Moderate to Severe Turbulence over the High Plains

December 13th, 2019 |

GOES-16 Mid-level (6.9 µm) Water Vapor images, with plots of Pilot Reports of turbulence (cyan and red), Turbulence SIGMETS (red boxes) and RAP40 model isotachs of maximum wind (yellow) [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Mid-level (6.9 µm) Water Vapor images, with plots of Pilot Reports of turbulence (cyan and red), Turbulence SIGMETS (red boxes) and RAP40 model isotachs of maximum wind (yellow) [click to play animation | MP4]

As a strong 170-knot jet streak (Satellite Liaison Blog) flowed southeastward over the High Plains on 13 December 2019, GOES-16 (GOES-East) Mid-level (6.9 µm) Water Vapor images (above) showed numerous pilot reports of moderate to severe turbulence at altitudes of 26,000-50,000 feet. The Turbulence SIGMETs were issued due to strong speed shear along the poleward (northeast) edge of the jet streak — this speed shear was evident by the closely-spaced isotachs of maximum wind speed from the RAP40 model.

Over southeastern Colorado, one aircraft encountered Severe Turbulence at an altitude of 36,000 feet at 1637 UTC, while another reported Moderate to Severe Turbulence at 37,000 feet at 1645 UTC (due to a mountain wave, which caused fluctuation in airspeed of +/- 20 knots) (below).

GOES-16 Water Vapor (6.9 µm) image with a pilot report of severe turbulence at 36,000 feet [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Water Vapor (6.9 µm) image with a pilot report of severe turbulence at 36,000 feet [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Water Vapor (6.9 µm) image with a pilot report of moderate to severe turbulence at 37,000 feet [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Water Vapor (6.9 µm) image with a pilot report of moderate to severe turbulence at 37,000 feet [click to enlarge]

 

Severe turbulence over coastal South Carolina

November 15th, 2019 |

GOES-16 Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm) images, with plots of pilot reports and SIGMET boundaries [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm) images, with pilot reports of turbulence and SIGMET boundaries [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 (GOES-East) Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm) images (above) revealed the presence of elongated W-E oriented billow clouds, many of which exhibited small-scale ripples that were oriented N-S along the billow cloud tops, over coastal areas of South Carolina and North Carolina on 15 November 2019. An initial SIGMET (November 1) was issued covering airspace over Georgia and South Carolina — Severe Turbulence (plotted in red) was reported at 41,000 feet and at 35,000 feet. A second SIGMET (November 2) was later issued covering airspace over South Carolina and North Carolina.

The same GOES-16 Water Vapor images which include isotachs of RAP40 model maximum wind (at any level) are shown below — most of the Moderate to Severe turbulence reports were occurring within the speed gradient along the poleward (left) edge of a SW-NE oriented jet stream flowing parallel to the coast.

GOES-16 Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm) images, with plots of pilot reports, SIGMET boundaries, and isotachs of RAP40 model maximum wind [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm) images, with pilot reports of turbulence, SIGMET boundaries, and isotachs of RAP40 model maximum wind [click to play animation | MP4]

More detailed views of the billow-top ripples were provided by a Terra MODIS Visible image at 1600 UTC, and NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) and Infrared images as visualized using RealEarth (below).

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) image, with plots of pilot reports and SIGMET boundaries [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) image, with pilot reports of turbulence and SIGMET boundaries [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images, with pilot reports of turbulence [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images, with pilot reports of turbulence [click to enlarge]

Aircraft dissipation trails over southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois

October 6th, 2019 |

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

1-minute Mesoscale Domain Sector GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) images (above) revealed a series of aircraft “dissipation trails” drifting northeastward across southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois on 06 October 2019. These cloud features were caused by aircraft that were either ascending or descending through a layer of cloud composed of supercooled water droplets — cooling from wake turbulence (reference) and/or particles from jet engine exhaust acted as ice condensation nuclei to cause the small supercooled water droplets to turn into larger ice crystals (many of which then often fall from the cloud layer, creating “fall streak holes“).

A comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared (1.61 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images (below) helped to confirm the presence of ice crystals within the aircraft dissipation trails: a darker appearance in the 1.61 µm image (since ice is a strong absorber of radiation at that wavelength), and a colder (brighter white) signature in the 3.74 µm image. In the enhancement applied to the 3.74 µm and 11.45 µm images, colors are applied to infrared brightness temperatures of -30ºC and colder — and the shades of yellow represent cloud-top brightness temperatures in the -30 to -39ºC range.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared (1.61 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared (1.61 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Several of the “fall streak” clouds were seen in time-lapse videos of west- and east-facing AOSS rooftop cameras (below).

Time lapse of west-facing AOSS rooftop camera images [click to play YouTube video]

Time lapse of west-facing AOSS rooftop camera images (courtesy of Pete Pokrandt, AOSS) [click to play YouTube video]

Time lapse of east-facing AOSS rooftop camera images [click to play YouTube video]

Time lapse of east-facing AOSS rooftop camera images (courtesy of Pete Pokrandt, AOSS) [click to play YouTube video]