NUCAPS fields across an upper tropospheric front

January 20th, 2021 |

GOES-16 ABI Airmass RGB, Band 10 and Band 8 (7.34 µm and 6.19 µm, respectively), and GOES-16 Airmass RGB overlain with NUCAPS sounding availability plots, 0801 UTC oni 20 January 2021 (click to enlarge)

The AirMass RGB from GOES-16 at 0800 UTC on 20 January 2021 showed a distinct color change across central Missouri, from red to green.  The enhanced red coloring suggests a large difference in water vapor brightness temperatures.  The toggle above (including an image with NUCAPS* sounding points), shows structures in the water vapor imagery consistent with an upper tropospheric front.

Water Vapor and Airmass RGB imagery fields are useful because they be compared to model fields of the tropopause, and similarities in model fields and satellite imagery lend credence to the idea that the model initialization is accurate.  Compare the Airmass RGB and the Rapid Refresh mapping of the pressure on the 1.5 PVU surface below.  There is good spatial correlation between model and satellite fields.

GOES-16 Airmass RGB and Rapid Refresh model field of Pressure on the 1.5 PVU surface, 0800 UTC 20 January 2021 (Click to enlarge)

How do vertical profiles from NUCAPS vary across the tropopause fold?  The animation below shows six different profile in Missouri and Arkansas, spanning the reddish region of the airmass RGB.

GOES-16 Airmass RGB image with selected NUCAPS profiles, as indicated. (Click to enlarge)

A more efficient way to view information from NUCAPS is to view gridded fields.  Polar2Grid is used to transform the vertical profile to horizontal fields at the individual NUCAPS pressure levels (and then vertical interpolation moves those fields to standard levels).  The animations below show gridded values that are all in agreement with the presence of a tropopause fold where the Airmass RGB and model fields suggest.  Gridded temperature and moisture can be combined in many ways.  Gridded Ozone is also available in AWIPS (some of these fields were created using the Product Browser).

Ozone from NUCAPS, below, does show an enhancement, as expected, in the region where the tropopause fold is suggested by the airmass RGB.

NUCAPS-derived ozone anomalies, ca. 0800 UTC on 20 January 2021 (Click to enlarge)

The gridded NUCAPS tropopause level, shown below, can also be inferred from the individual profiles shown above.

Gridded NUCAPS Tropopause level, ca. 0800 UTC on 20 January 2021 (click to enlarge)

Note how the lapse rates show relatively less stable air (in the mid-troposphere) in the region of the tropopause fold.

Gridded 500-700 mb Lapse rates, ca. 0800 UTC on 20 January 2021 (click to enlarge)

Mixing ratio shows dry mid- and upper-tropospheric air, in the region of the tropopause fold, as might be expected from the GOES-16 water vapor imagery.

Gridded NUCAPS esimates of 300-700 mb mixing ratio, ca. 0800 UTC on 20 January 2021 (Click to enlarge)

In general, NUCAPS data can be used to augment other satellite and model data to better understand the thermodynamic structure of the atmosphere.  For more information on NUCAPS profiles, refer to this training video.

*The careful reader will note that the timestamp of the NUCAPS Sounding Availability plot, 0753 UTC, is different from the GOES-16 imagery.  Why?  The NUCAPS Sounding Availability plot is timestamped (approximately) when NOAA-20 initially overflies North American airspace.  NOAA-20 was flying over Missouri shortly after 0800 UTC, as shown in this plot (from this website).  Gridded NUCAPS fields are timestamped when NOAA-20 is overhead.

Strong winds, gravity waves and turbulence across Northern California

January 19th, 2021 |

GOES-17 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with Pilot Reports of turbulence [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with Pilot Reports of turbulence [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 (GOES-West) Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images which included Pilot Reports (PIREPS) of turbulence (above) revealed a diverse variety of gravity waves across much of Northern California on 19 January 2021. Three types of waves were prevalent: (1) quasi-stationary mountain waves caused by strong northeasterly flow interacting with topography of the Sierra Nevada and Coastal Ranges, (2) long, narrow corridors of fast-moving waves flowing offshore, and (3) west-to-east oriented arcs of waves drifting slowly northward. With such disparate wave structures and the intersections of their wave fronts, the prospects for atmospheric turbulence were elevated — in fact, there were a few pilot reports of moderate to severe turbulence, at both low and high altitudes.

GOES-17 Mid-level Water Vapor images with plots of NAM40 model wind streamlines/isotachs at 18 UTC and 00 UTC (below) showed the strong northeasterly flow in the middle troposphere, with speeds as high as 100-110 knots.

GOES-17 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with plots of NAM40 model 500 hPa wind streamlines/isotachs at 18 UTC and 00 UTC [click to enlarge]

GOES-17 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with plots of NAM40 model 500 hPa wind streamlines/isotachs at 18 UTC and 00 UTC [click to enlarge]

South Sandwich Islands lee waves

January 16th, 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 created using Geo2Grid (above) revealed long trails of lee waves extending northeastward from many of the South Sandwich Islands on 16 January 2021. These lee waves were generated by strong southwesterly winds within the marine boundary layer interacting with the topography of the islands — wind speeds had increased across that portion of the South Atlantic Ocean, in response to the tight pressure gradient between high pressure north of the islands and a deepening area of low pressure southeast of the islands (MSLP analyses).

A toggle between two NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB images as viewed using RealEarth (below) provided a higher-resolution view of the lee waves extending from the island chain.

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB images [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Many of these islands contain active volcanoes, which frequently produce plumes (which are primarily comprised of steam). A closer look at the lee waves emanating from one of the northernmost islands (below) appeared to suggest that a brighter white volcanic plume existed within the train of waves.

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB images [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Blowing dust across the High Plains (Part 2)

January 15th, 2021 |

GOES-16 Dust RGB images, with and without hourly surface reports [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Dust RGB images, with and without hourly surface reports [click to play animation | MP4]

As discussed in this blog post, GOES-16 (GOES-East) Dust RGB images (above) displayed the distinct signature of a large blowing dust plume (brighter shades magenta/pink) that initially developed over drought-stricken areas of eastern Colorado and far western Kansas on 15 January 2021. Surface wind gusts in excess of 60 knots were seen in eastern Colorado near the source of the dust plume, with a peak gust of 63 knots or 72 mph — in fact, the anomalously-strong 925 hPa wind speeds were 5-6 sigma above the climatological mean (source). Pilot reports near the edges of the plume indicated visibility restrictions due to dust at altitudes of 5,000 feet over southwestern Kansas and 10,000 feet over northeastern New Mexico.

GOES-16 True Color RGB and Dust RGB images (created using Geo2Grid) are shown below.

GOES-16 Dust RGB and True Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 True Color RGB and Dust RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

Due to the presence of very dry throughout the lower/middle troposphere (Amarillo, Texas rawinsonde data), a signature of the dust plume was also evident in GOES-16 Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.37 µm) images (below).

GOES-16 Dust RGB and Near-Infrared

GOES-16 Dust RGB and Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.37 µm) images, with plots of Ceiling and Visibility [click to play animation | MP4]

After sunset, the plume signature persisted in GOES-16 Dust RGB images (below) as the blowing dust continued to move southeastward across Texas.

GOES-16 Dust RGB images, with and without hourly surface reports [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Dust RGB images, with and without hourly surface reports [click to play animation | MP4]

===== 16 January Update =====

GOES-16 Dust RGB and True Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Dust RGB and True Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

On the following day, the dust plume began to flow off the Texas coast and over the Gulf of Mexico by 06 UTC — and although the plume signature began to diminish in the GOES-16 Dust RGB images after sunrise, it was very apparent in True Color RGB imagery (above). Note that the True Color images revealed some recirculation of dust which began to move inland toward the end of the day, as surface winds near the coast shifted to southeasterly (surface analyses).

GOES-16 Natural Color RGB images with plots of Ceiling and Visibility (below) showed that the dust reduced the visibility to 2.5 miles at a site located just off the Texas coast at 14 UTC, and to 5 miles at a site located about 100 miles offshore at 15 UTC.

GOES-16 Natural Color RGB images, with plots of Ceiling and Visibility [click to play animation| MP4]

GOES-16 Natural Color RGB images, with plots of Ceiling and Visibility [click to play animation| MP4]

In a toggle between VIIRS True Color and False Color RGB images from Suomi NPP (below), the dust plume was very evident over the Gulf of Mexico (where its lighter appearance stood out against the dark background of the water).

VIIRS True Color and False Color RGB images from Suomi NPP [click to enlarge]

VIIRS True Color and False Color RGB images from Suomi NPP [click to enlarge]