Interpreting SAR data over the Bering Sea

April 8th, 2021 |

GOES-17 ABI Band 2 (0.64 µm) and Band 5 (1.61 µm) at 1740 UTC on 8 April 2021 (Click to enlarge)

The toggle above shows GOES-17 ABI Band 2 (“Red Visible” at 0.64 µm) and Band 5 (“Snow/Ice” at 1.61 µm) imagery at 1740 UTC on 8 April 2021. 60ºN and 170ºW lat/lon lines are included in yellow, as well as Nunivak Island.  There is evidence of sea ice extending from south of Nunivak northwestward;  visible 0.64 µm imagery  shows much greater reflectance compared to 1.61 µm snow/ice imagery.  It’s much harder to view the ice edge in the snow/ice channel because reflectances in that channel for ice and water are similar.

Compare the toggle above to the Sentinel-1A Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) image at 1735 UTC on 8 April 2021, shown below.   The stark wind difference (red vs. blue) in the SAR wind image below is in reality a change in ocean state, with ice over the red region and open water over the blue.  (Here is the Sea Ice analysis for 8 April from the Alaska Sea Ice Program (ASIP)).  Interpretation of SAR winds requires a knowledge of the presence of ice.

Sentinel 1-A analysis at 1735 UTC on 8 April 2021 (Click to enlarge)

Cyclone Seroja

April 5th, 2021 |

Himawari-8 ‘Target Area’ clean window infrared (10.41 µm) imagery, 1224 – 2018 UTC on 5 April 2021 (Click to animate)

Himawari-8 ‘Target Area’ imagery (with a 2.5-minute timestep) on 5 April show the evolution of Cyclone Seroja over the Timor Sea northwest of Australia. (Click here for an mp4 animation). Periodic bursts of deep convection (black and white in the color-enhancement) are apparent in the center of the storm. Analyses from the CIMSS Tropical Weather Site (link) show the storm in a region of warm Sea Surface Temperatures. Modest shear is present and it is changing the convective core of the storm in the animation above from circular to elongated over the 8-hour animation. However, strengthening is forecast.

Screen capture of SSTs over the Timor Sea, wind shear, and forecast path of Cyclone Seroja (Click to enlarge)

Visible imagery at sunrise on 6 April shows the evolution of the storm.

Himawari-8 visible (0.64 µm) imagery, 2152 – 2304 UTC on 5 April 2021 (Click to enlarge)

Himawari-8 imagery courtesy JMA. You can also view satellite imagery over the area from KMA.

Update 8 April

Himawari-8 imagery (10.41 µm), below, from 0300-1610 UTC on 8 April, show a large cirrus canopy initially over Seroja eroding (You can see the 0300 and 1610 UTC images alone toggling here) Can you tell from this infrared imagery where the storm center sits?

Himawari-8 clean window infrared (10.41 µm) (full disk) imagery, 0300 – 1610 UTC on 8 April 2021 (Click to animate)

This is certainly a case where microwave imagery can (and should!) be used to better pinpoint the circulation center.  ASMU-B imagery at 89 GHz (from here), below, storm-centered at 2307 UTC 7 April, 0207 8 April and 1143 UTC on 8 April show a storm center near 18ºS, 111.5ºE at around 1200 UTC on 8 April.  Here is the Himawari-8 Clean Window infrared at 1140 UTC.  Could you place the center near its microwave-suggested center using this infrared imagery?

AMSU-B imagery at 2307 UTC 7 April, 0206 8 April and 1143 8 April. Satellite Platform as indicated in the image. Click to enlarge)

Imagery from the CIMSS Tropical Website (link), below, show that Seroja on 8 April was traversing a region of low shear.  Sea surface temperatures at present under the storm are warm; however, the projected path of the storm is towards cooler ocean waters.  There is abundant upper-level divergence over the storm and to the northwest of Seroja as well.

Maps of atmospheric wind shear, sea-surface temperatures and upper-level divergence, ca. 1500 UTC on 8 April 2021. The path of the storm, and the projected path of the storm are also noted.

Radarsat-2 Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) wind data (from this website), shown below, from 1054 UTC on 8 April, can also be used to infer a circulation center.

Radarsat-2 SAR Data over Seroja, 1054 UTC on 8 April 2021 (Click to enlarge)

Satellite-based detection of rain amounts

March 10th, 2021 |

Hydroestimator rainfall values for the 24 hours ending 1200 UTC on 9 March 2021 (Click to enlarge)

The system that produced the high-impact flooding event on Maui (discussed here) also  caused flooding rains on Oahu on the 9th.   (A Flash Flood Emergency was declared at 348 HST on 9 March:  Link)  How well did quantitative satellite estimates of this event perform?  Hydroestimator values, above, from the 24 hours ending 1200 UTC on 9 March (from this website) show isolated maxima over northern Oahu for and over eastern Maui. Daily totals for the 24 hours ending 1200 UTC on 10 March are shown below.  Again, heavy rain is diagnosed on Maui with lesser amounts over Oahu, where 48-hour  totals  were between  150  and  200  mm.

Hydroestimator rainfall values for the 24 hours ending 1200 UTC on 10 March 2021 (Click to enlarge)

GSMAP rain totals for the 24 hours ending 0000 UTC on 10 March 2021 (click to enlarge)

24-hour totals from JAXA’s GsMAP website, above, show large values mostly north of Oahu, and also just north of Maui.  Values are between 100-150 mm.  24-hour CMORPH-2 values (from RealEarth), below, ending 0000 UTC on 10 March, show values between 50 and 100 mm.  Values over Maui are less than 50 mm.

CMORPH-2 24-h precipitation ending 0000 UTC on 10 March 2021 (Click to enlarge)

The GOES-17 Enterprise algorithm totals, below (courtesy Bob Kuligowski, NOAA) , show values close to 50 mm over Oahu, and over 50 mm on Maui.

24-hour rain totals from the GOES-17 algorithm, 1200 UTC on 10 March 2021 (Click to enlarge)

None of these rain totals captured the exceptional nature (writeup is here;  some totals are here) of this orographically enhanced rainfall. The widespread nature of the rain was captured however.  All methods detected heaviest rain north of the Island chain.

GOES-17 animations, both visible and infrared, combined with situational awareness driven by animations of total precipitable water, such as that below (from this site) will help a forecaster anticipate heavy rains however — when they might start, and when they might end.

10-day rocking animation, 0000 UTC 28 February 2021 to 2300 UTC 10 March 2021 (and back) (Click to enlarge)

Comparing SAR wind data to GOES-16 ABI imagery

February 15th, 2021 |

Sentinel-1A wind information over northern Lake Michigan, 2342 UTC on 14 February 2021 (Click to enlarge)

Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery can be used to produce very high resolution mapping of winds. Imagery is available in selected domains at this NOAA/OSPO website; OSPO is the Office of Satellite Product Observations. Data are available from three different satellites: Sentinel-1/Sentinel-2 (managed by the European Space Agency) and RADARSAT (managed by the Canadian Space Agency). These space-borne radars can operate in a mode that provides very small-scale wind information, as shown above.  Note the fine detail in the winds — elongated regions of winds in excess of 20 knots from north of Green Bay southeastward across Lake Michigan to North and South Manitou islands.  What does the ABI Imagery look like at the same time?

GOES-16 Band 7 (3.9 µm) imagery, below, similarly shows three parallel lines of colder cloud tops (the greyscale enhancement used is such that colder values are whiter). SAR data shows that convective bands over the lake have stronger surface winds than regions in between the convective bands.

GOES-16 Band 7 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) imagery, 2341 UTC on 14 February 2021