Archive for the ‘Outreach’ Category

In late April,  NASA SPoRT and the Albuquerque NWS met with scientists at New Mexico Tech to coordinate the integration of the Langmuir Lab lightning mapping array data into our operations.  According to Bill Rison, Paul Krehbiel, and Ron Thomas, New Mexico Tech’s Lightning Mapping Array (LMA) is a 3-dimensional total lightning location system. The system is patterned after the LDAR (Lightning Detection and Ranging) system developed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center by Carl Lennon, Launa Maier and colleagues. The LMA measures the time of arrival of 60 MHz RF radiation from a lightning discharge at multiple stations, and locates the sources of the radiation to produce a three-dimensional map of total lightning activity.  The time-of-arrival technique for studying lightning was pioneered by Dave Proctor in South Africa.  The NASA SPoRT core project site details that operationally, total lightning data provide several advantages to forecasters.  First, total lightning data often give a 3-5 minute lead time ahead of the first cloud-to-ground lightning strike.  This improves lightning safety for the National Weather Service’s Terminal Aerodrome Forecasts (TAFs) and Airport Weather Warnings (AWWs).  This safety feature also can be used for incident support of special events. In addition, the total lightning data provides information about the spatial extent of lightning that is not available in the traditional cloud-to-ground data (http://weather.msfc.nasa.gov/sport/lma/).  This data may also be used to evaluate the degree of lightning activity within active wildfire smoke plumes.  The image below is an example of an LMA station at Briggsdale, Colorado taken by New Mexico Tech.  These stations are solar-powered and communications are operated via cell technology.

LMA stations at Briggsdale, Colorado.  Photo available from NM Tech.

Figure 1.  LMA station at Briggsdale, Colorado. Photo available from NM Tech.

After the first collaboration between NWS Albuquerque and NM Tech, forecaster Jennifer Palucki met with Harald Edens in June to install the xLMA and Live LMA software onto our office outreach laptop.  The LMA data that forecasters are evaluating at Albuquerque consists of source densities.  The imagery is available as a contour shaded product and describes the overall extent of sources from a particular thunderstorm or complex of thunderstorms.  The Live LMA software provides the actual point source information that make up the densities available in AWIPS.  The forecaster can actually see the structure of the point sources making up a flash on a 1-minute temporal resolution.  Figure 2 below shows the composite radar reflectivity valid at 0200 UTC July 23, 2014 for a complex of thunderstorms developing southward into the Albuquerque Metro Area.  The associated LMA source density product at 0202 UTC in Figure 3 illustrates the structure of the shaded point sources for the lightning flash.  The graphic shown in Figure 4 details the point sources available with the Live LMA software.  The source densities making up the flash during this 1-minute period stretched as far as 30-km from north to south and 20-km from east to west.  The altitude of the main source region was near 10-km.  The data available in AWIPS also allows the forecaster to slice and dice the data by elevation angle.  Forecasters at the Albuquerque NWS will continue evaluating the LMA products through summer 2014 to offer feedback to NASA SPoRT and NM Tech on its operational application.


Figure 2.  Mosaic Composite Reflectivity valid at 0200 UTC July 23, 2014.

Figure 2. Mosaic Composite Reflectivity valid at 0200 UTC July 23, 2014.


Figure 3.  Langmuir Lab LMA Source Density product valid at 0202 UTC July 23, 2014.

Figure 3. Langmuir Lab LMA Source Density product valid at 0202 UTC July 23, 2014.

Figure 4.  Live LMA 1-minute point sources valid at 0202 UTC July 23, 2014.

Figure 4. Live LMA 1-minute point sources valid at 0202 UTC July 23, 2014.

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SPoRT’s Disaster Response Team sprung into action this morning to produce imagery in response to Super Typhoon Bopha as it approaches The Philippines and the Southeast Asia mainland.  To better serve SPoRT’s partners, end-users, and the general public, this imagery has been integrated into SPoRT’s new Tiled Mapping Service (TMS).  The TMS allows users the capability to view the highest resolution data using only their web browser.  This service is also helpful for disaster response teams that are working in the field as browsers on tablets or smartphones can seamlessly pan and zoom SPoRT imagery without the need for a specific decision support system, lots of computational horsepower, or fast data download speeds.  In addition, users can adjust the transparency of different data sets in order to compare features from multiple instruments.  The transparency can be adjusted by clicking on the text associated with the displayed product in the layer tree and then using the scroll bar in the upper left of the display to adjust the transparency.

Below is an example of using the TMS to layer Day Night Band (DNB) imagery from NASA/NOAA/DoD’s Visibile Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) valid at around 1700 UTC on 2 December 2012 and the 89 GHz RGB product from NASA’s Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission (TRMM) Microwave Imager.  In the VIIRS image, cloudy features appear as white even in the middle of the night as moonlight is reflected from the cloud tops.  Here, Super Typhoon Bopha can be seen in the bottom right of the VIIRS swath.  However, the edge of the scan bisects the storm.  To get a more full picture of the storm–and to learn additional information about where active convection is occurring–the passive microwave 89 GHz RGB product can be overlain.  With the transparencies appropriately adjusted, one can see both the extent of the cloud field associated with the storm (white features in the VIIRS DNB imagery) along with areas that are most convectively-active (red areas in PM RGB).

SPoRT continues to process additional datasets to add into the system, so check back for updates as new satellite data become available.

Example of overlaying NASA satellite datasets in SPoRT's TMS.  Passive Microwave RGB imagery from 0200 UTC on 3 December overlays VIIRS DNB  imagery from 1700 UTC on 2 December for Super Typhoon Bopha as it approaches The Phillipines

Example of overlaying NASA satellite datasets in SPoRT’s TMS. Passive Microwave RGB imagery from TRMM is overlaid on VIIRS DNB imagery to show where most active convection is occurring with Super Typhoon Bopha as it approaches The Philippines.

High-resolution VIIRS DNB Imagery of Super Typhoon Bopha from SPoRT TMS displayed using a handheld device.

High-resolution VIIRS DNB Imagery of Super Typhoon Bopha from SPoRT TMS displayed using a handheld device.

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As mentioned in earlier blog posts, SPoRT is currently producing a suite of satellite imagery products in support of forecasting for Hurricane Sandy.  These products include multispectral (also called RGB) imagery that blends specific channels that are sensitive to different atmospheric characteristics.  They are used to identify different cloud and air mass features within and surrounding the storm.  The products are available to NWS/NCEP in their NAWIPS decision support system and in KML format for viewing via Google Earth.  All of the data that SPoRT provides to the NWS are also freely available on the SPoRT website or through download via anonymous FTP, so non-NWS decision makers and the public can access the data to track the storm.

VIIRS images are available on the SPoRT website (http://weather.msfc.nasa.gov/sport/) by selecting VIIRS under the “Real-Time Data” tab.  MODIS images are available on the SPoRT website by selecting MODIS under the “Real-Time Data” tab.

KMZ files for Google Earth are available for download via SPoRT’s FTP server.  Click on the links next to each product description to view a list of VIIRS or MODIS imagery available for download into Google Earth.

  • True Color RGB:  Shows a representation of what the naked eye would view from space.  VIIRS   MODIS
  • Air Mass RGB:  Shows different cloud and air mass features, including moist tropical air and dry stratospheric air that enable forecasters to determine how the storm is interacting with its environment.   VIIRS & CrIS   MODIS
  • Day-Night-Band:  Allows for imagery to be generated using reflected moonlight or emitted surface light.  This is especially helpful because other visible satellite imagery is not available at night.  This product shows the location of city lights in clear skies and can be used to depict the extent of power outages due to large storm systems.   VIIRS
  • Dust RGB:  Shows the location of dust, which can be a contributing factor to hurricane development.   VIIRS  MODIS
  • False Color RGB:  Enhanced imagery that can differentiate snow from cold cloud tops.   VIIRS  MODIS
  • Nighttime Microphysics RGB:  Used to differentiate clouds from low-level fog.  VIIRS  MODIS

Training on how to interpret the different imagery can be found in training modules developed by SPoRT.  These modules can be viewed on the SPoRT website by selecting Training under the “Transitions” tab.

SPoRT True Color RGB Image in Google Earth depicting Hurricane Sandy off the Carolina Coast at 1749 UTC on 28 October 2012

*UPDATE*:  It appears that the latest version of Google Earth (6.2) is cropping some of these KML images.  To view the full images, it is recommended to use Google Earth 6.1 to view the VIIRS imagery.  This older version can be downloaded by visiting the Google Earth download page (http://www.google.com/earth/download/ge/agree.html) and clicking the “advanced setup” link located below the Terms of Service.

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Hi all, the SPoRT Partners Virtual Workshop will be held on the afternoons of September 12th and 13th.  Here is the workshop agenda for the next couple of days…

Wednesday, September 12th (Noon – 4:00 PM – Central)

12:00 – 12:25

•Welcome, introduction, logistics, etc.

Convection, Severe Weather, and Total Lightning

12:25 – 12:50

An overview of summer convection across central Alabama – WFO Birmingham – Kevin B. Laws

12:50 – 1:15

Evaluation of the Convective Initiation (CI) GOES-R Algorithm in South Florida in July of 2012 – WFO Miami – Jeral Estupiñán

1:15 – 1:40

Using NASA SPoRT data sets to improve warning decision making during the peninsular Florida warm/wet season – WFO Melbourne – Jonathan C. Guseman, Matthew R. Volkmer, Peter F. Blottman, and David W. Sharp

Collaborations with OPC

1:40 – 2:05

Presentation by Michael Folmer

2:05 – 2:30


Operational Uses of Total Lightning

2:30 – 2:55

An investigation of North Alabama Lightning Mapping Array data and usage in the real-time operational warning environment during the March 2, 2012 severe weather outbreak in northern Alabama – WFO Huntsville / NASA SPoRT – Kristopher D. White, Geoffrey T. Stano, and Brian Carcione

2:55 – 3:20

Use of total lightning data at Chattanooga, Tennessee (Hamilton County) for public safety and decision making – WFO Morristown / NASA SPoRT – David Hotz, Anthony Cavallucci, and Geoffrey T. Stano

NASA SPoRT’s AWIPS II Activities

3:15 – 3:40

Demonstration of SPoRT / WFO Huntsville AWIPS II activities – NASA SPoRT / WFO Huntsville – Jason Burks, Kevin McGrath, and Matt Smith

3:45 – 4:00

Closing remarks, additional questions

Thursday, September 13th (Noon – 4:00 PM Central)

12:00 – 12:05

Brief introduction

Operational Uses of Unique Satellite Imagery

12:05 – 12:30

The integration of unique satellite observations into operational forecasting and their impact on short-term prediction and decision support – WFO Albuquerque – Brian Guyer and Deirdre Kann

12:30 – 12:55

Quantifying Saharan dust events in Miami, Florida during the summer of 2012 – WFO Miami – Jeral Estupiñán, Roberto Arias, and Dan Gregoria

12:55 – 1:20

Demonstration of RGB Composite Imagery at NWS forecast offices in preparation for GOES-R – WFO Huntsville / NASA SPoRT – Kristopher D. White and Kevin Fuell

1:20 – 1:45

Updates to NASA SPoRT’s hybrid imagery as well as transitioning VIIRS imagery from Soumi NPP – NASA SPoRT – Matt Smith

1:45 – 2:00



Initialization Datasets and Modeling Collaborations

2:00 – 2:25

Recent upgrades to NASA SPoRT initialization datasets for the Environmental Modeling System – NASA SPoRT – Jonathan L. Case

2:25 – 2:50

The utility of the real-time NASA Land Information System data for drought monitoring applications – WFO Huntsville / NASA SPoRT – Kristopher D. White and Jonathan L. Case

2:50 – 3:15

Preliminary results of a U.S. Deep South warm season deep convective initiation modeling experiment using NASA SPoRT initialization datasets for the operational National Weather Service local model runs – WFOs Houston and Mobile / NASA SPoRT – Jeffrey M. Medlin, Lance Wood, Brad Zavodsky, Jonathan L. Case, and Andrew Molthan

Workshop Wrap-Up

3:15 – 4:00

We are really looking forward to the workshop and hope to “see” you there!

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Image 1. Dr. Geoffrey Stano discusses total lightning as a decision support tool in warning forecast operations.  Seated are (left to right) Science and Operations Officer – Dave Hotz, Warning Coordination Meteorologist – Anthony Cavallucci, and Lead Forecaster – Tim Doyle.

SPoRT members Dr. Geoffrey Stano and Kristopher White made a visit to the Morristown NWS office to meet with forecasters and discuss recent and potential future collaborative projects.  The Morristown office is a particularly heavy user of the North Alabama Lightning Mapping Array (NALMA) and the SPoRT ADAS product.  They are interested in future modeling collaborations with SPoRT and in helping to evaluate RGB and VIIRS products after the office transitions to the AWIPS II platform.  It was a very productive visit and we look forward to future work together with their office and with some of the Emergency Management officials in their County Warning Area.  We would like to extend a special thanks to the Morristown office for their kind hospitality and taking the time to interact with us today!

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