Lightning Jump in the North Alabama Lightning Mapping Array

It’s a busy day in North Alabama with NASA and NOAA aircraft in the region supporting a field campaign for GOES-16.  Another instrument supporting activities is the North Alabama Lightning Mapping Array (NALMA), which observes total lightning (both intra-cloud and cloud-to-ground).  SPoRT has been providing NALMA data to local forecast offices for 14 years and has used these data to serve as a proxy for the Geostationary Lightning Mapper on GOES-16 as part of the GOES-R Proving Ground.  The images below show the total lightning activity across southern Tennessee and northern Alabama at 2138 and 2152 UTC on 22 April 2017.  The main storm of interest is right along the Alabama-Tennessee border, just north of Huntsville, Alabama.  The maximum number of flashes per 2 square kilometers in two minutes is about 50 flashes at 2138.  In 14 minutes, that has jumped to nearly 150 flashes over two minutes highlighting a lightning jump.   A long flash extending to the south towards Huntsville is also seen.  This storm already had a severe thunderstorm warning active and the jump here indicates that the storm will maintain it’s intensity.  The weather community will look forward to the Geostationary Lightning Mapper observations when they a made available in the next few months.

0438_lst_22apr17

Total lightning observations from the North Alabama Lightning Mapping Array at 2138 UTC on 22 April 2017.

0452_lst_22apr17

Total lightning observations from the North Alabama Lightning Mapping Array at 2152 UTC on 22 April 2017.

GOES-16 Advanced Baseline Imager Data Observes Severe Weather Event on Day 1!

Today marks the first day that the beta-mode Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) data have been made available from GOES-16.  NASA SPoRT is obtaining the ABI data via the GOES Rebroadcast (GRB) data transmission system receiver located at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Mother Nature provided some active weather through the Tennessee River Valley today as SPoRT team members worked to produce imagery from the receiver.  Below is a one hour animation of ABI data from 1817 to 1917 UTC updating every 5 minutes.  This shows Band 2 visible 0.64 µm imagery at a resolution of 0.5 km.  The imagery shows the line of storms as it entered northern Alabama.

abiLoopBand2_0.64um_20170301.gif

GOES-16 ABI 0.64 um visible imagery from 1817 to 1917 UTC on 1 March 2017.  These data come from the GOES Rebroadcast (GRB) data transmission system receiver located at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. (Full resolution)

Please note, the GOES-16 data posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational data and are undergoing testing. Users bear all responsibility for inspecting the data prior to use and for the manner in which the data are utilized.

For comparison, the following figure below shows the same ABI 0.64 µm imagery at 2006 UTC (0.5 km) side-by-side with the existing GOES-13 visible data at 2007 UTC (1 km).  Notice the impressive detail observed with the higher resolution GOES-16 imagery!

imager_comparison.png

Comparison of GOES-16 ABI 0.64 um (left, 2006 UTC – 0.5 km) and the GOES-13 Imager (right, 2007 UTC – 1 km) on 1 March 2017.  The yellow circle highlights an overshooting top in Jackson County, Alabama.  These data come from the GOES Rebroadcast (GRB) data transmission system receiver and the GVAR receiver, both located at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. (Full resolution)

Please note, the GOES-16 data posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational data and are undergoing testing. Users bear all responsibility for inspecting the data prior to use and for the manner in which the data are utilized.

NASA SPoRT Helps Prepare for GOES-R

November 19th has been eagerly anticipated by the meteorological community as it is the launch of the next-generation GOES-R satellite.  The satellite will carry a suite of space weather instruments as well as two Earth observing sensors.  The Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) will provide three times more channels to view the Earth, four times greater spatial resolution, and 5 times faster coverage.  The ABI will provide new means to monitor atmospheric phenomena.  Additionally, GOES-R will carry the first ever lightning observation sensor on a geostationary platform; the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM).  Numerous organizations, including NASA SPoRT, have been supporting the GOES-R Proving Ground for many years to aid the operational community in preparing for the new capabilities of GOES-R.

Specifically, NASA SPoRT has been formally involved with the Proving Ground since 2009, although much of our work prior to this point has provided relevant information with respect to GOES-R.  SPoRT has been primarily involved in two activities.  The first has been the assessment of and training for multi-spectral imagery, often called red-green-blue (RGB) composites.  The RGB composites are used to combine multiple single channels into a single image in order to help emphasize phenomena that forecasters wish to monitor.  This can range from air mass microphysics to atmospheric dust.  This work has leveraged work by Europe’s EUMETSAT organization who first developed several of these RGB composites for their Meteosat Second Generation satellite.  SPoRT has worked with NASA’s MODIS instruments from Aqua and Terra as well as the JPSS VIIRS instrument to create the respective RGBs from polar orbiting instruments.  These snapshot demonstrations provided forecasters local examples of RGB composites to allow them to investigate these products prior to GOES-R’s launch.  SPoRT has also coordinated with other product developers to help transition their early development work to National Weather Service forecasters.  This included the University of Alabama in Huntsville’s GOES-R convective initiation product and the NESDIS quantitative precipitation product.

image2

MODIS Dust RGB demonstrating a future capability of the GOES-R ABI. Dust (magenta) can be seen approaching Las Vegas, Nevada.

In additional to the ABI work, SPoRT has been integral to supporting total lightning (intra-cloud and cloud-to-ground) observations in operational applications.  This dates back to 2003 with the first transition of experimental ground-based lightning mapping arrays that evolved into the pseudo-geostationary lightning mapper (PGLM) product in 2009 to provide operational training for the GLM.  Since then, SPoRT has developed the GLM plug-in for the National Weather Service’s AWIPS system, has personnel serving as the National Weather Service liaison for the GLM, and have developed foundational training that is being provided to every forecaster in the National Weather Service.

tornado_alt_25apr10-11

Sample of the pseudo-geostationary lightning mapper demonstration product in AWIPS being used for training on the Geostationary Lightning Mapper.

SPoRT will continue to be actively engaged in GOES-R applications post launch.  This will take the form of developing an applications library, or short 3-5 focused case examples, for both the ABI RGBs and the GLM.  SPoRT will also participate in the formal applications training for RGBs and GLM that will be released to the National Weather Service.  Lastly, SPoRT will be leading an operational assessment of the GLM with National Weather Service forecasters and associated emergency managers.

goes_r_launch_19nov16

GOES-R launching on November 19, 2016!

Matching ISS Photos to Meteorological Observations during the Northeast Winter Storm from last week

This past weekend’s storm which brought record-breaking snow to the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast Corridor also brought something that gets the Earth Science Office at Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) excited…lightning from the view point of a camera lens aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

NASA Commander Scott Kelly (@CDRScottKelly) tweeted out this photo early Saturday morning from an overflight down the East Coast just before sunrise.

https://twitter.com/stationcdrkelly/status/690905921980080130

The corresponding satellite and lightning data show that the ISS camera captured a 4 stroke incloud lightning flash within the storm as the system pushed its way out to sea in the North Atlantic.

goes_lightning_23jan16_0945_v2

GOES East IR imagery from 0945 UTC on 23 January 2016. Red plus signs indicate the location of 4 incloud strokes as observed by the Earth Networks Total Lightning Network that represent the location of the flash in the ISS photo from Saturday.

Over the next year the weather enterprise will expand its capability to monitor lightning flashes from space in a similar manner to how the ISS captured this lightning flash. In the next year, two spaceborne lightning measurement instruments which NASA MSFC has played a major role in developing during many decades of hard work will be launched into space: the International Space Station Lightning Imaging Sensor (ISS-LIS) and the GOES-R Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM). These instruments will monitor energy from lightning flashes escaping the top of the cloud when a lightning flash occurs, utilizing a narrow oxygen emission line at 777.4 nanometers.

What does this mean for the public? Increased public safety and confidence in decisions which are affected by hazardous weather. Data from the ISS-LIS and GLM instruments will help scientists better understand the internal structure of all types of storms, helping develop better models for how storms grow, intensify and decay. Forecasters will be able to utilize flash rate information on storms acquired from these instruments to enhance severe weather prediction, determine where the heaviest snowfall rates are occurring in winter systems, or help reroute air traffic away from dangerous storms over the ocean. Most importantly, the ability to monitor the area of individual flashes will lead to better decisions on how to take shelter in an appropriate amount of time before the first lightning strike occurs in their area.

A special thank you to Mike Trenchard, Will Stefanov of Johnson Space Center for helping us acquire the ISS telemetry and camera information used to sync the meteorological observations with the lightning photo from Commander Kelly.

(Posted on behalf of the Earth Science Office)

Lightning in Hurricane Joaquin

I wanted to post a different way of viewing Hurricane Joaquin using lightning data.  Until GOES-R is launched and the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) is available, forecasters rely on long-range terrestrial lightning networks to get a view inside tropical systems.  In this example from the Ocean Prediction Center (OPC), the lightning density comes from Vaisala’s GLD360 network.  Unlike the lightning mapping array (LMA) networks SPoRT collaborates with, the GLD360 primarily observes cloud-to-ground strokes, but will occasionally observe strong intra-cloud flashes (although the network does not distinguish between the two).  The interesting feature here is the nearly concentric ring of lightning stroke densities around the eye, although some strong storms are observed to the southwest.  Research at CIRA and the National Hurricane Center has been investigating the impact on rapid tropical cyclone intensification based on whether the lightning densities are greatest in the inner core or outer rain bands.  There is a great deal of interest in observing the relationship between tropical cyclone development/intensity and total lightning, which will be available once GLM is launched and can be compared to the work ongoing with the GLD360.

The latest animations can be viewed at the OPC web page: OPC IR and GLD360 animations

An image of Hurricane Joaquin with IR imagery overlaid with 30 minutes of Vaisala's GLD360 lightning stroke density at 1445 UTC on October 1, 2015. The image was produced by the Ocean Prediction Center.

An image of Hurricane Joaquin with IR imagery overlaid with 30 minutes of Vaisala’s GLD360 lightning stroke density (8×8 km) at 1445 UTC on October 1, 2015. Note the ring of lightning surrounding the eye of the hurricane.  The image was produced by the Ocean Prediction Center.

A New Total Lightning Web Display

The SPoRT Center regularly works to display unique data in products, such as total lightning from ground-based lightning mapping arrays (LMAs), in the Weather Service’s display system; AWIPS II.  However, there is occasionally an opportunity to try a different method for specific operational applications.  One of those opportunities came with the Morristown, Tennessee forecast office.  Here, the collaboration was looking for a web-based visualization in order to better collaborate with emergency managers.  Feedback to SPoRT requested the need for a real-time display that could animate the data, auto-update, and allow zooming to a feature that would not reset with an update.  Additionally, there was a need to make this functional on mobile devices.

This has resulted in the test display shown here of the North Alabama Lightning Mapping Array flash extent density from July 1, 2015 from 1:30-4:00 PM (Central).  Like the more traditional display in AWIPS II, this flash extent density highlights the main storm cores where the updraft is intensifying, shows the spatial extent of total lightning, and even highlights several long flashes into the stratiform region behind the main convection, as shown in the still images below.  While the display is just in a development state now, it is demonstrating the potential for how to bring these data to emergency managers and Weather Service forecasters who may be in the field and not in the office, such as for special outdoor events.

Demonstration total lightning web display

The North Alabama Lightning Mapping Array flash extent density animation from 1:30-4:00 PM (Central) on July 1, 2015 in a new demonstration web display.  State and county boundaries are in black, while interstates are blue and major U.S. highways are in red.  (Click for the full resolution image.)

The two images below show a still image from 2:14 PM (Central) of the total lightning flash extent density and the corresponding radar reflectivity.

A still taken from the animation above at 2:14 PM (Central).  The main storm core and stratiform region lightning are highlighted.

A still taken from the animation above at 2:14 PM (Central). The main storm core and stratiform region lightning are highlighted. (Click for the full resolution image.)

 

The corresponding radar reflectivity at 2:14 PM (Central) for the still image above highlighting the locations of the total lightning features.

The corresponding radar reflectivity at 2:14 PM (Central) for the still image above highlighting the locations of the total lightning features. (Click for the full resolution image.)

The Global Precipitation Measurement views Hurricane Iselle

The SPoRT program has been collaborating with NOAA’s National Hurricane Center to transition passive microwave products to their operational system; the National Centers for Environmental Prediction Advanced Weather Information Processing system, or NAWIPS.  By viewing a storm in microwave wavelengths versus infrared, forecasters have the ability to observe storm structure that may be obscured by high clouds.  Many times, this ability is used to better determine the center fix on a tropical system.

One of the most recent missions to carry a passive microwave instrument is the joint NASA and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) satellite.  The core observatory was launched on February 27, 2014 operational data from GPM’s microwave imager (GMI) was first available on May 29.  SPoRT has incorporated this into the data feed for the National Hurricane Center.  SPoRT is currently working to transition these observations to NAWIPS for the Central Pacific Hurrican Center in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The image below, taken by the National Hurricane Center in NAWIPS shows Hurricane Iselle in the Pacific Ocean several days before it struck the big island of Hawaii.  The image shows an RGB (red, green, blue) color composite of Hurricane Iselle from August 5, 2014 at 11:15 AM Eastern Daylight time.  The image is created by combining the horizontal and vertical polarization observations of the 89 GHz channel.  The resulting combination emphasizes strong convection / deep clouds in bright red.

Additional information on GPM can be found at: www.nasa.gov/gpm.

Hurricane Iselle - GMI

Hurricane Iselle as observed by the Global Precipitation Measurement Microwave Imager (GMI) with the 89 GHz RGB composite on August 5, 2014 at 11:15 AM Eastern Daylight Time.