Interesting circular contrail over South Dakota

January 29th, 2020 |

Multi-panel images of all 16 ABI spectral bands from GOES-16 [click to play animation | MP4]

Multi-panel images of all 16 ABI spectral bands from GOES-16 [click to play animation | MP4]

Multi-panel images of all 16 ABI spectral bands from GOES-16 (GOES-East) (above) revealed an interesting circular contrail over northeastern South Dakota on 29 January 2020. A signature of this contrail was evident in all 16 bands — visible, near-infrared and infrared. This feature was likely formed by a military aircraft performing training exercises over the area.

A sequence of GOES-16 ABI spectral band images covering that same 1751-2001 UTC time period (below) provided a larger view of the circular contrail — whose diameter was about 10-12 miles — along with a linear contrail located about 30 miles to the southwest.

Sequence of GOES-16 ABI spectral band images [click to play animation | MP4]

Sequence of GOES-16 ABI spectral band images [click to play animation | MP4]

A toggle between GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.37 µm) images at 1911 UTC (below) showed that the darker signature seen in the Visible imagery was a shadow cast by the higher-altitude contrail onto the top of the low-altitude stratus clouds. A similar northwestward shadow offset (of about 5 miles) was apparent with the linear contrail feature.

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.37 µm) images at 1911 UTC [click to enlarge]

The southwestward shift of the higher-altitude contrail (with respect to the surface shadow) was not due to parallax — this webapp shows that the direction of parallax shift over that region would be northwestward for cloud features at altitudes of 15,000 feet and 30,000 feet (below).

Parallax correct vectors (green arrows) and magnitudes (red. in km) for cloud features at 15,000 feet and 30,000 feet over the CONUS domain [click to enlarge]

Parallax correct vectors (green arrows) and magnitudes (red. in km) for cloud features at 15,000 feet and 30,000 feet over the CONUS domain [click to enlarge]

Plots of rawinsonde data from Aberdeen, South Dakota (below) showed an increase in moisture during the day within the 500-300 hPa layer — due to its relatively slow southeastward propagation, the circular contrail likely existed within the lower portion of that layer (where wind speeds were less).

Plots of rawinsonde data from Aberdeen, South Dakota [click to enlarge]

Plots of rawinsonde data from Aberdeen, South Dakota [click to enlarge]

A signature of the circular contrail was seen in all 3 of the GOES-16 Water Vapor spectral bands — weighting functions derived using rawinsonde data from Aberdeen, South Dakota (below) showed either primary or secondary peaks within the 500-300 hPa layer.

GOES-16 Water Vapor weighting functions derived using rawinsonde data from Aberdeen, South Dakota [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Water Vapor weighting functions derived using rawinsonde data from Aberdeen, South Dakota [click to enlarge]

Thanks go out to Jay Trobec (@trobec), KELOLAND TV in Sioux Falls, for alerting us about this interesting example.

Stratospheric smoke from Australian bushfires

January 24th, 2020 |

GOES-16 Near-Infrared

GOES-16 Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.37 µm) images, 19-24 January 2019 [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 (GOES-East) Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.37 µm) images during the 19-24 January 2019 period (above) showed a semi-circular pall of smoke that originated from Australian bushfires  — outbreaks of pyrocumulonimbus clouds that occurred in late December 2019 and early January 2020 injected large amounts of smoke into the lower stratosphere, and this smoke drifted eastward across the South Pacific Ocean. The 1.37 µm spectral band does a good job at detecting light scattered by airborne particles such as ice crystals, smoke, volcanic ash, dust, etc.; the areal extent of the smoke was most apparent approaching sunset on each day, due to enhanced forward scattering.

CALIPSO satellite CALIOP lidar data indicated that this smoke often resided at altitudes in the 18-24 km range — one example from 21 January can be seen here. 12-hourly GOES-16 Cirrus images with plots of GFS model 70 hPa wind barbs during the 20-24 January 2019 period (below) showed that winds at the 70 hPa pressure level were generally light.

GOES-16 Near-Infrared "Cirrus" (1.37 µm) images, with plots of GFS model 70 hPa wind barbs (knots), 20-24 January 2019 [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.37 µm) images, with plots of GFS model 70 hPa wind barbs (knots), 20-24 January 2019 [click to enlarge]

As the stratospheric smoke feature was beginning to move over the Punta Arena, Chile area (station identifier SCCI), rawinsonde data from that site indicated that the wind speed at 70 hPa (18.5 km) was 18 knots (below).

Plot of rawinsonde data from Punta Arenas, Chile at 12 UTC on 24 January [click to enlarge]

Plot of rawinsonde data from Punta Arenas, Chile at 12 UTC on 24 January [click to enlarge]

Gravity waves over the Gulf of Mexico and Florida

January 22nd, 2020 |

GOES-16 Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images, with pilot reports of turbulence [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images, with pilot reports of turbulence [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 (GOES-East) Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images (above) showed a packet of gravity waves over the eastern Gulf of Mexico and southern Florida on 22 January 2020. Later time in the time period, there were isolated pilot reports of moderate turbulence in the vicinity of the waves (though it’s uncertain whether the gravity waves were directly responsible).

What caused these gravity waves to form and slowly propagate southeastward is also uncertain — earning this example its place in the “What the heck is this?” blog category. The SPC Mesoscale Analysis at 07 UTC (below) did show weak convergence of 300 hPa ageostrophic winds (dark blue oval) in the entrance region of a secondary jet streak “J” over the Gulf of Mexico — this convergence could have played a role in the gravity wave development.

SPC Mesoscale Analysis valid at 07 UTC, showing 300 hPa height, isotachs and ageostrophic winds [click to enlarge]

SPC Mesoscale Analysis valid at 07 UTC, showing 300 hPa height, isotachs and ageostrophic winds [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Derived Motion Winds (calculated using 6.9 µm imagery) in the vicinity of the gravity waves (below) had velocities in the 50-60 knot range at pressure levels of 370-380 hPa (0916 UTC).

GOES-16 Water Vapor (6.2 um) Derived Motion Winds [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Water Vapor (6.9 µm) Derived Motion Winds [click to enlarge]

Also of note was the fact that the surface of southern Florida was sensed by GOES-16 Low-level Water Vapor imagery (below).

GOES-16 Low-level (7.3 µm) Water Vapor images, with pilot reports of turbulence [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Low-level (7.3 µm) Water Vapor images, with pilot reports of turbulence [click to play animation | MP4]

With an unseasonably cold, dry air mass moving southward over the peninsula, the 7.3 µm water vapor weighting functions were shifted to lower altitudes at Miami and Key West (below) — this allowed the thermal contrast between relatively cool land surfaces and the surrounding warmer water to be seen in the 7.3 µm imagery.

GOES-16 weighting functions for the 7.3 µm (violet), 6.9 µm (blue) and 6.2 µm (green) Water Vapor spectral bands, calculated using 12 UTC rawinsonde data from Miami, Florida [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 weighting functions for the 7.3 µm (violet), 6.9 µm (blue) and 6.2 µm (green) Water Vapor spectral bands, calculated using 12 UTC rawinsonde data from Miami, Florida [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 weighting functions for the 7.3 µm (violet), 6.9 µm (blue) and 6.2 µm (green) Water Vapor spectral bands [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 weighting functions for the 7.3 µm (violet), 6.9 µm (blue) and 6.2 µm (green) Water Vapor spectral bands, calculated using 12 UTC rawinsonde data from Key West, Florida [click to enlarge]

In fact, at Key West the Total Precipitable Water value of 0.3 inch calculated from 12 UTC rawinsonde data (below) was a new record for the date/time (the previous record minimum value was 0.36 inch).

Climatology of Total Precipitable Water for the Key West, Florida rawinsonde site [click to enlarge]

Climatology of Total Precipitable Water for the Key West, Florida rawinsonde site [click to enlarge]

MIRS Ice Concentration Products over the Great Lakes

January 20th, 2020 |

MIRS Lake Ice Concentration (as a percentage) from NOAA-20 ATMS at 0735 UTC on 19 January 2020 (Click to enlarge)

CIMSS is now providing via LDM MIRS Lake Ice Products over the Great Lakes. These data are created using the Community Satellite Processing Package (CSPP) Software and NOAA-20/Suomi-NPP ATMS data downlinked at the Direct Broadcast Antennas in Madison WI. Imagery is shown above from 0735 UTC on 19 January 2020; the image below is from 0717 UTC on 20 January 2020, from NOAA-20, about 24 hours later, and then from 0808 UTC on 20 January 2020, from Suomi NPP (although it is labeled as NOAA-20). A great benefit of these microwave products is that they are not affected by persistent cloud cover that is common over the Great Lakes in winter.

MIRS Lake Ice Concentration (as a percentage) from NOAA-20 ATMS at 0717 UTC on 20 January 2020 (Click to enlarge)

MIRS Lake Ice Concentration (as a percentage) from NOAA-20 ATMS at 0806 UTC on 20 January 2020 (Click to enlarge)

Ice concentration estimates from microwave are very strongly influenced by view angle. Make certain in your comparisons (if you are trying to ascertain changes in lake ice coverage during Lake-Effect Snow events, for example) that you understand this! If the footprint sizes are similar, a comparison to different passes is valid; if the footprint sizes differ, the effects of view angle must be considered. Orbital paths can be viewed here (NOAA-20 it passed right over Lake Erie at 0722 UTC on 20 January; Suomi-NPP passed over Duluth at 0812 UTC on 20 January). In the two examples above, note how ice cover estimates differ over Lake Ontario. In the later example, from ATMS on Suomi-NPP, Lake Ontario is far closer to the limb; the ATMS footprint is much larger and the estimate of lake ice concentration is affected. This toggle compares the VIIRS Day Night band image to the ATMS observations; Lake Ontario is close to the limb for NPP’s pass over western Lake Superior at this time.

For instructions on how to access these data, please contact the blogpost author. Many thanks to Kathy Strabala and Lee Cronce, CIMSS, for their work in making these data available. Click here for short video explaining MIRS Ice Concentration).

Added: A consequence of the relatively poor resolution of ATMS (compared to, say, AMSR-2 on GCOM) is that a footprint in the Great Lakes will often not be over only water or over only land. A mixed surface (land and water within the ATMS footprint) means that the ice concentration algorithm will struggle to interpret the signal and reach the right solution. Best resolution from ATMS occurs near the sub-satellite point (from 15-50 km, depending on the frequency), and that’s where this product give the best information. (Thanks to Chris Grassotti, NOAA/CISESS for this information)