AIRS Profiles Provide Greater Insight into Current Weather Conditions

Temperature and moisture profiles derived in near real-time from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite can help forecasters evaluate forecast model performance and to diagnose changing weather conditions.  The example below illustrates the use of AIRS profiles in this way for Birmingham, Alabama on December 1, 2009.  The top panels present NAM forecasts of the temperature and moisture structure of the atmosphere in the vicinity of Birmingham at 0300, 0600, and 0900UTC.  The profiles indicate a low level inversion with a moist adiabatic profile above it, with little forecasted change with time.  The 0700UTC AIRS profile (lower left) for the same region indicates a much warmer lower troposphere with a deeper inversion layer and much drier air aloft.  The AIRS profile is more consistient with the 1200UTC rawinsonde observation (lower right), even though it represents conditions a few hours earlier.  Note that the AIRS profile (thick line) does not extend to the ground because of overcast conditons.   SPoRT is working to provide forecasters access to real-time AIRS profile data via AWIPS.

NAM, AIRS, and radiosonde profiles for Birmingham on December 1, 2009.

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