First Rapid Scan Satellite Imagery of Volcanic Ash Plumes: July 1980 (Mount St. Helens)

July 22nd, 2020 |

 

SMS-2

SMS-2 Visible and infrared (IR) from July 23, 1980. The red square represents the approximate location of Mount St. Helens.  [click to play animation | MP4]

The main modern Mount St. Helens eruption was May 18, 1980 — yet there were also later paroxysmal eruptions, such as on June 12/13, 1980. Geostationary satellite imagery from NASA’s SMS-2 (Synchronous Meteorological Satellite) monitored two more Mount St. Helens eruptions on July 22th (local time), 1980, as shown above. Note that in “UTC-time”, the eruption took place on July 23rd. A similar side-by-side SMS-2 visible and infrared animation.  This may be the first* “rapid scan” imaging of a volcanic ash plume (with a 3-minute cadence for almost an hour), where “rapid scan” is defined as satellite imagery less than 5 min apart.

There is a long history of rapid scan imaging from geostationary imagers, including from SMS-1/2, ATS-1, ATS-3, GOES-1, GOES-7 series, GOES-8 series, GOES-14 , Meteosat, etc and of course, AHI and the GOES-R series ABI where 1-min imagery is routine. Here’s a page where users can search historical meso-scale sector locations from the University of Wisconsin-Madison SSEC Satellite Data Services.  

The monitoring of volcanic ash plumes and their attributes have greatly increased from 1980 to today. Moving from qualitative (somewhat after the fact imagery) to quantitative applications (that are much more timely)! Due to the large number of volcanoes, coupled with the increase in satellite observations, satellite observations are key in monitoring the world’s volcanoes for aviation safety and other uses. More on volcanic ash monitoring.

SMS-2

A similar loop as above (SMS-2 Visible and IR from July 23, 1980), but the in mp4 format. Both the day before and after, SMS-02 was in a routine scan mode of imagery every 30 minutes. The rapid scan imagery was just on July 23, 1980 for approximately one hour, starting at 00:14 UTC. 

This webpage allows to customize the loop speed of the SMS visible and infrared side-by-side animation. This uses the hanis software. 

SMS-2 Visible from July 23, 1980

SMS-2 Visible from July 23, 1980 covering approximately one hour. The red square represents the approximate location of Mount St. Helens.  [click to play animation | MP4]

The shadows from the plume are evident. 

A longer duration (4-hr) SMS-02 IR animation (mp4) or (animated gif). The red square represents the approximate location of Mount St. Helens.  Note the less than ideal image navigation. 

GOES-3

NOAA’s GOES-3 was also operating, although not in a rapid scan mode, so imagery was every 30 minutes. 

GOES-3 IR July 1980.

GOES-3 IR July 23, 1980 over 4 hours. The red square represents the approximate location of Mount St. Helens.  [click to play animation | MP4]

The two pulses are clearly evident. 

H/T

Thanks to Jean Phillips, the SSEC Data Services, and the Scott’s (Bachmeier and Lindstrom). NASA SMS-2 and NOAA GOES-3 data are via the University of Wisconsin-Madison SSEC Satellite Data Services. More GOES-R series information

* There may have been rapid scan satellite observations of volcanic ash plumes prior to this case in 1980, and if you know of any, please contact T. Schmit.

UW/Madison CIMSS at 40

July 14th, 2020 |

CIMSS (Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies) is now 40 years old, as it was established in 1980. From “about CIMSS: “… is a Cooperative Institute formed through a Memorandum of Understanding between the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1980. CIMSS operates as an institute within the Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC)”.

A GOES-3 visible loop from July 14, 1980. Displayed with McIDAS-X software. [Click image to play animation]

The CIMSS mission includes three goals:

  • Foster collaborative research among NOAA, NASA, and the University in those aspects of atmospheric and earth system sciences that exploit the use of satellite technology;
  • Serve as a center at which scientists and engineers working on problems of mutual interest can focus on satellite-related research in atmospheric and earth system science;
  • Stimulate the training of scientists and engineers in the disciplines involved in atmospheric and earth science.
A visible loop from July 14, 1980 from NASA’s SMS geostationary satellite. [Click image to play animation]
An infrared loop from July 14, 1980 from NASA’s SMS geostationary satellite. [Click image to play animation]
A visible full disk image from July 14, 1980 at 1730 UTC from NASA’s SMS geostationary satellite.

The same image, but full resolution (11 MB).

Then and Now

Two full disk images, separated by 40 years.

The above image pair compare a NASA SMS from 1980 to an GOES-16 ABI true color composite from 2020. Both images are from July 14th. The GOES-16 data was generated using Geo2Grid software.

The data are via SSEC Data Services.

Mount St. Helens: June 1980

June 12th, 2020 |

SMS-2

Vis and IR

Visible and Infrared NASA SMS-2 animation on June 13, 1980 between 02:30 and 07:00 UTC. The red square denotes the  approximate location of Mount St. Helens, and the arrows highlight the plumes of the two separate eruptions.  [Click to play mp4]

The main Mount St. Helens eruption was May 18, 1980 — yet there were also later paroxysmal eruptions. Imagery from NASA’s SMS-2 (Synchronous Meteorological Satellite) monitored two more Mount St. Helens eruptions on June 12th (local time), 1980, as shown above. Note that in “UTC-time”, the eruption took place on June 13th. A similar side-by-side SMS-2 visible and infrared animation (without the arrows) is available here (in addition to one without the red location box).

SMS-2 Visible image

NASA SMS-2 visible animation from June 13th (02:00 to 04:00 UTC), 1980. The red square denotes the  approximate location of Mount St. Helens. [Click to play mp4]

A visible band animation without the red square at the location of Mount St. Helens is shown above. The second plume coated Portland (OR) with ash. For more on this case, see Wikipedia and the USGS. Here’s the same loop and image, but without the red location box.

The volcanic ash plume was also evident in the infrared window band, below, but the imagery has fairly coarse spatial (and temporal) resolution compared to today’s GOES-R series ABI (which allows much improved volcanic cloud monitoring). This longer IR loop shows the 2nd plume as well.

IR image

NASA SMS-2 infrared animation from June 13th (02:45 to 04:00 UTC), 1980. The red square denotes the  approximate location of Mount St. Helens. [Click to play mp4]

Swipe between SMS-2 Visible and Infrared bands. Red square notes Mount St. Helens location.

Fade between a SMS-2 Visible and Infrared band.

Note that there is a geolocation offset between the two spectral bands. The satellite times listed are the image scan start times.

GOES-3

The experimental SMS series followed the ATS series, and was a precursor to the operational GOES.

GOES -3 also observed both volcanic ash plumes.

GOES-3 IR

GOES-3 Infrared animation from June 13, 1980. [Click to play mp4]

A slightly longer GOES-3 infrared animation is available here. NASA SMS-2 and NOAA GOES-3 data are via the University of Wisconsin-Madison SSEC Satellite Data Services.