Ozone and the airmass RGB

December 13th, 2021 |
GOES_17 airmass RGB, 2200 UTC on 12 December 2021 (Click to enlarge)

A GOES-17 airmass RGB, above, shows a strong feature in the Gulf of Alaska. It’s common to associate the orange and purple regions within that polar feature (that is accompanied by cloud features consistent with very cold air aloft) with enhanced ozone. What products are available online to gauge the amount of ozone?

The OMPS instrument on board NOAA-20 (and on Suomi-NPP) senses in the ultraviolet (from 250-310 nm) to compute ozone concentration. (For more information on OMPS, refer to this document) The figure below, taken from this Finnish website, shows ozone concentration for the 24 hours ending at 0110 UTC on 13 December. A distinct maximum is apparent over the Gulf of Alaska. Note the northern terminus of the observations that are related to the time of year: there is little Sun north of 60 N. The data for this were downloaded from the Direct Broadcast site at GINA at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. OMPS data are also available (from Suomi-NPP) at NASA Worldview.

To determine the time of the data in the image below, consult the NOAA-20 orbital paths here. This image (from that site) shows a NOAA-20 ascending overpass between 2235 and 2245 UTC over the Gulf of Alaska.

Daily Composite of Ozone concentration for the 24 hours ending 0111 UTC on 13 December 2021 (click to enlarge)

NOAA-20 also carries the Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS) and Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS) instruments that are used to create NUCAPS vertical profiles; one of the trace gases retrieved in this way is ozone. The distribution of ozone (with values in regions where it was dark) from NUCAPS is shown below (from this website maintained by SPoRT), and it corresponds roughly with the OMPS estimates shown above.

Gridded NUCAPS estimates of ozone, 2217 UTC on 12 December 2021 (Click to enlarge)

Conclusion: The assumption that upper-tropospheric ozone values are large in regions where the airmass RGB is tinted red or purple is a good assumption, especially if other structures in the RGB — such as cumulus cloud development in the cold air — reinforce the idea that an intrusion of stratospheric air is occurring. The strong storm that this lowered tropopause is supporting is accompanied by a moist feed of air moving into central California, as shown below by MIMIC total precipitable water fields.

Total Precipitable Water, 2200 UTC on 12 December 2021 (Click to enlarge)

Gridded NUCAPS fields are being tested within RealEarth, as shown below. They should be generally available soon.

RealEarth Gridded NUCAPS estimates of ozone, 2217 UTC on 12 December 2021 (Click to enlarge)