Using 1-minute GOES-17 imagery to monitor tropical convection near American Samoa

February 21st, 2021 |

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

GOES-17 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

1-minute Mesoscale Domain Sector GOES-17 (GOES-West) “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images (above) showed thunderstorms associated with the South Pacific Convergence Zone (SPCZ) on 21 February 2021. The 3 METAR stations plotted on the imagery are, from left to right, Hihifo Airport, Wallis and Fotuna (NLWW), Apia, Samoa (NSFA) and Pago Pago, American Samoa (NSTU).

In spite of their degraded quality due to GOES-17 ABI Loop Heat Pipe thermal issues (which reaches one of its peaks at the end February), the Infrared images were still helpful in confirming that the primary SPCZ axis was remaining just north of the Samoan islands — and since the NWS Pago Pago office lacks radar coverage, they highlighted the importance of satellite imagery in one of their forecast discussions:

The active South Pacific Convergence zone (SPCZ) is lingering over the Samoan 
island chain, as seen on latest GOES-17 mesoscale this afternoon.
We have a very difficult time with confirming the wind forecast by model data, 
as there are no observations available of the persistent convection brewing 
just off-shore the islands. However, the models coupled with satellite are 
our only tools.

===== 22 February Update =====

GOES-17

GOES-17 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

The Fiji Meteorological Service determined that Tropical Depression 10F formed along the SPCZ  around 00 UTC on 22 February (surface analysis). Shortly after that time, a convective burst developed just east of the disturbance center, which exhibited cloud-top infrared brightness temperatures as cold as -94.3ºC — which indicated a significant overshoot of the Equilibrium Level as analyzed on 00 UTC rawinsonde data from Pago Pago, American Samoa.

GOES-17 Infrared images, with plots of upper-level satellite winds and contours of upper-level convergence [click to enlarge]

GOES-17 Infrared images, with plots of upper-level satellite winds and contours of upper-level convergence [click to enlarge]

GOES-17 Infrared images with plots of upper-level satellite winds and contours of upper-level convergence (above) and plots of low-level satellite winds and contours of low-level convergence (below) from the CIMSS Tropical Cyclones site showed that the deep convection developing within the SPCZ was sustained by an environment of favorable kinematic fields. Tropical Depression 10F was also located within a narrow ribbon of relatively low deep-layer wind shear.

GOES-17 Infrared images, with plots of low-level satellite winds and contours of low-level convergence [click to enlarge]

GOES-17 Infrared images, with plots of low-level satellite winds and contours of low-level convergence [click to enlarge]

The MIMIC TPW product (below) highlighted the rich tropical moisture within the NW-SE oriented SPCZ.

MIMIC TPW product [click to enlarge]

MIMIC TPW product [click to enlarge]

A closer look at the MIMC TPW product over the Samoan islands at 16 UTC on 22 February is shown below. With such high tropical moisture in place across the region, thunderstorms were producing heavy rainfall and/or wind damage in some of the islands (local storm reports).

MIMC TPW product over the Samoan islands at 16 UTC

MIMC TPW product over the Samoan islands at 16 UTC [click to enlarge]

===== 23 February Update =====

GOES-17 "Red" Visible (0.64 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (above) showed that as deep convection began to diminish, the low-level circulation center of TD 10F slowly became more exposed as the tropical disturbance weakened — prompting the Fiji Meteorological Service to discontinue classifying feature as a tropical depression as of 2100 UTC on 23 February (below).

Surface analyses at 18 UTC and 21 UTC on 23 February (map time stamps are Fiji local time) [click to enlarge]

Surface analyses at 1800 UTC and 2100 UTC on 23 February (map time stamps are Fiji local time) [click to enlarge]

Using ATMS data to observe lake ice coverage over the Great Lakes

February 16th, 2021 |

ATMS Ice Concentration over the Great Lakes, from overlapping ascending Suomi-NPP passes on 30 January and 15 February 2021 (Click to enlarge)

CIMSS produces Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS) Lake Ice concentration images in a format that can be inserted into AWIPS.  These images are created from data downloaded (available at this ftp site;  imagery is also available here) at the DB antennae at CIMSS, and processed with MIRS algorithms (all MIRS products are available at this NOAA Website) that are incorporated into CSPP.   This document (from ESA) includes a figure showing how emissivities of ice and water differ, allowing for discrimination between ice and open water.  The differences are especially large at lower frequencies.

The animation below from NOAA/NESDIS of ice concentration over the USA (including the Great Lakes) (source) shows obvious increases and decreases in ice concentration;  given the general very cold conditions over the Great Lakes during this time (especially over Lakes Michigan and Superior), the reduction in ice cover on 14-15 February is inconsistent with the cold weather.

Ice coverage increases from 10-13 February and then decreases.  This change in ice coverage matches view angle changes from the ATMS instrument on Suomi NPP, and those view angle changes affect the spatial resolution of the measurements.  There was a near-nadir afternoon pass on 10 February, and diagnosed ice in Lake Michigan was at a minimum;  ascending pass views of Lake Michigan on 12 and 13 February are near the limb and diagnosed ice over Lake Michigan reached a maximum;  the view was near nadir again on 15 February when, again, diagnosed lake ice was at a minimum.  (Suomi NPP Orbit paths are available here).  It is important when using Ice Coverage data to know the view angle from the satellite!

NPP MIRS Ice Coverage, 4 – 15 February 2021, from Ascending (afternoon) Passes (Click to enlarge)

MIRS algorithms to compute Ice Concentration use information from ATMS channels 1, 2, 3, 16 and 17.  These 5 channels have footprints ranging from 15 to 75 km (at satellite nadir), as shown in the image below, from this paper. Note especially how the footprints increase in size at the limb:  channel 17’s footprint ranges from 15×15 km at nadir to 68×30 km at the limb!   A challenge in using ATMS is that the microwave footprint can easily observe both land and water, in which case the microwave data will not give values representative of the lake coverage.

Scanning geometry for 22 ATMS channels. The figure includes footprint sizes at nadir and at the limb (Click to enlarge)

The figure below shows circles with diameters of 15, 50 and 75 km;  the smaller circle is the approximate nadir footprint of channel 16 and 17 at ATMS;  the larger circle is the approximate nadir footprint of channels 1 and 2.  Lake Ice resolution from MIRS might be considered to be of the order of 50 km.

Circles with diameters of 15, 50 and 75 km in Lakes Michigan, Huron and (inset) Erie (click to enlarge)

NOAA-20 and Suomi-NPP, the two satellites that carry ATMS as part of their payloads, both have 16-day repeats.  That is:  the satellite traces out the same path every 16 days;  in addition, paths are very similar every 5 or 6 days.  See, for example, this toggle of (Suomi NPP) NUCAPS soundings points over the South Pacific ocean, on 25 July and 10 August 2019, 16 days apart.  The same orbit is traced out on these two days.  That is why the ATMS ice concentration plots at the top of this post are from 30 January and 15 February:  16 days apart. The two orbit mappings at the links are identical. The 15 February image of orbits is shown below.

Interpretation of the Ice Concentration imagery at the top of this blog post requires knowledge about the path of Suomi-NPP shown below.  Lake Michigan and western Lake Superior are close to nadir, and there should be some ATMS footprints entirely within those lakes.  Lakes Huron, Erie and Ontario are far enough away that a user might not trust 100% the data being presented.  The ice coverage change between the two days might be useful:  there is a general increase in concentration over coastal Lakes Michigan and Superior.

Predicted Suomi-NPP Orbits for 15 February 2021 (Click to enlarge)

A morning descending pass of Suomi-NPP moved over eastern Lake Ontario, giving the best resolution over that small Great Lake.  The 0659 UTC image from 16 February is shown below.  Notice the difference in Lakes Superior and Michigan between this image (for which Lakes Superior and Michigan are near the limb) and the image at top (for which Lakes Superior and Michigan are near nadir).

Suomi NPP ATMS Estimates of Lake Ice, 0659 UTC on 16 February 2021 (Click to enlarge)

The 15 February 2021 analysis (from this page) from NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab (GLERL) is shown below.  Consider the ATMS imagery as an approximation to the observed field. Care in interpretation of ATMS data is a necessity because of errors that occur when pixels are not entirely over water.  That is a frequent occurrence when the satellite is scanning along the limb.

Ice concentration over the Great Lakes, from GLERL, 15 February 2021 (Click to enlarge)


The toggle below (from this site) highlights resolution differences between ATMS Channel 1 (23.8 GHz), with 75-km resolution at nadir, and ATMS Channel 17 ( 165.5 GHz), with 15-km resolution at nadir.  Note also the differences in the signals between western Lake Erie (ice covered) and eastern Lake Erie (more open water).

ATMS imagery (Channels 1 and 17) derived from Suomi NPP at ~1800 UTC on 17 February 2021 (NPP overflew Buffalo NY on this day) (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]

Tornadoes in Northern California

January 4th, 2021 |

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, left) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm, right) images, with SPC Storm Reports plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, left) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm, right) images, with SPC Storm Reports plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

1-minute Mesoscale Domain Sector GOES-17 (GOES-West) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images (above) showed thunderstorms moving eastward across Northern California on 04 January 2021, which produced 2 tornadoes (SPC Storm Reports) in the Sacramento Valley south and southeast of Red Bluff (KRBL). Vertical wind shear was evident in the Visible imagery, with low clouds moving northwestward and mid/upper-level clouds moving eastward.

A toggle between Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 2148 UTC (below) showed the storm that produced a tornado in Corning approximately 8 minutes earlier. The coldest cloud-top infrared brightness temperatures were around -38ºC (darker shades of yellow).

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water images during the 02-04 January time period (below) showed a long ribbon of moisture (a necessary ingredient for convection) impinging upon Northern California — and a mid-tropospheric trough (500 hPa analysis) along with a cold front that was moving inland (surface analyses) provided forcing for ascent to further enhance convective development.

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water images [click to play animation | MP4]

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water images [click to play animation | MP4]