SPoRT used the MODIS and VIIRS imagers (on NASA’s Aqua & Terra satellites, and NOAA’s S-NPP satellite, respectively) within the NOAA’s Satellite Proving Ground to assess the value of a “Dust RGB Imagery” product for potential use with GOES-R (now GOES-16). The Dust RGB proved useful on 13 April 2018 (animation above) where many dust plumes developed in the U.S. Southwest and Mexico. Forecasters were able to monitor dust plume initiation and issue advisories and warnings. In addition, several plumes continued to have impacts after sunset, and the Dust RGB, which uses only IR window channels (see Dust RGB Quick Guide), was able to continue monitoring the event at night while the visible imagery was no longer valuable. Some advisories were extended beyond their original expiration time. NASA SPoRT is using the NASA CALIPSO satellite and associated CALIOP lidar on board to validate and categorize dust signatures seen in the RGB and examine quantitative aspects like plume height and thickness. The image below shows an event from 3 April 2018 where forecasters from the NWS Albuquerque WFO and CWSU evaluated the Dust RGB impact to operations as part of SPoRT’s assessment activities, and the CALIOP lidar backscatter captured the dust plume over west Texas. From CALIOP the dust plume appears to be about 2 km thick in most locations, but the most concentrated region reached a height of about 3 km above ground.
NASA SPoRT has been working to get training materials available to NWS forecasters via the new AWIPS Integrated Reference (AIR) tool. This Twitter post and attached video details how NWS forecasters can access the new training material. This training is now available with the current POES RGB imagery, but will also be available once RGB imagery from GOES-16 is available in AWIPS. SPoRT will be working to add new training content within Vlab and accessible via the AIR tool in the coming months.
SPoRT has worked closely with the GOES-R and JPSS Proving Grounds to explore innovative applications for the Air Mass RGB and CrIS/ATMS NUCAPS Soundings. Specific applications include identification of stratospheric air influence and tropopause folding to anticipate rapid cyclogenesis and hurricane tropical to extratropical transition.
When the Air Mass RGB was first introduced to NOAA NWS National Center forecasters in 2012, SPoRT developed a total column ozone product from the NASA AIRS instrument (a hyperspectral infrared sounder) as a way to help forecasters gain confidence in interpreting the qualitative RGB. Since that time SPoRT has continued to develop quantitative ozone products such as the ozone anomaly and tropopause height products from additional hyperspectral infrared sensors such as CrIS/ATMS and IASI.
More recently, CrIS/ATMS NUCAPS Soundings were added to AWIPS-II for forecasters to utilize in operations. SPoRT has specifically explored the utility of NUCAPS Soundings for hurricane tropical to extratropical transition (see link to training material). With the availability of the GOES-16 Air Mass RGB and NUCAPS Soundings in AWIPS-II there is an opportunity to explore rapid cyclogenesis cases and extratropical transition events with next-generation satellite capabilities. Since we have the capability to display the client-side generated Air Mass RGB here at SPoRT, here is a quick preview of how the NUCAPS Soundings can be used to compliment the Air Mass RGB.
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.
The Air Mass RGB is able to detect temperature and moisture characteristics in the mid- to upper levels of the atmosphere. Warm, dry air upper level air appears in red/orange tones. Dry upper level air appears more red when associated with anomalous potential vorticity as warm, dry, ozone-rich air is pulled downward by the jet stream circulation. Dry upper levels away from the jet stream appear orange. In contrast warm, moist tropical air appears in green tones, appearing more olive when less moisture is present.
In the Air Mass RGB image above you can see a well-defined upper-level temperature and moisture boundary across the southern U.S. associated with yesterday’ s passing frontal system. NUCAPS Soundings can provide additional information about the thermodynamic and stability characteristics of the lower-levels of the atmosphere which cannot be deciphered in the Air Mass RGB. The Sounding at Location 1 shows a mostly dry atmospheric column, which is typical for the orange colored regions (i.e dry upper levels) in the RGB, note however there are moister conditions around 850 mb. The Soundings at Location 2 and 3 in the green colored regions (i.e. moist upper levels) confirm moist upper-level conditions. What the NUCAPS Soundings reveal is a layer of much drier mid-level air between about 850-400 mb, which cannot be detected in the Air Mass RGB. The ability to detect such a layer can be important in data sparse regions. Although this is a benign weather situation where much of the Southeast enjoyed sunny, cool, and dry conditions today, this same technique can be applied to more intense, high impact events to assess the thermodynamic environment surrounding a developing low pressure system or weakening hurricane where moist or dry layers can have an impact on storm intensity.
For more information regarding the Air Mass RGB, including applications and interpretation guides for the color features in the imagery:
- SPoRT Quick Guide: Air Mass RGB in the SPoRT Training Site
- SPoRT Air Mass RGB: Introduction (Module) ~20 minutes
- JPSS Satellite Products for Extratropical Transition (Module) ~10 minutes
- Multispectral Imagery for Detecting Stratospheric Air Intrusions Associated with Mid-Latitude Cyclones (Zavodsky et. al 2013)
- Development and Application of Atmospheric Infrared Sounder Ozone Retrieval Products for Operational Meteorology (Abstract for Berndt et al. 2016)
CrIS/ATMS soundings processed through the NOAA Unique Combine Processing System (NUCAPS) are available in AWIPS. SPoRT is working with the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) Proving Ground to testbed the utility of NUCAPS soundings to anticipate hurricane tropical to extratropical transition. Although satellite derived soundings are “smoother” than radiosondes they can provide valuable information about the depth of moist or dry layers in data sparse regions. Forecasters can anticipate extratropical transition by identifying the dry slot and upstream potential vorticity anomalies on satellite imagery that may interact with a storm while also considering many other factors that lead to extratropical transition. Although Hurricane Matthew is not expected to undergo extratropical transition for quite a few days, the NUCAPS Soundings can be used to diagnose the temperature and moisture characteristics surrounding the hurricane as highlighted below.
GOES-13 water vapor imagery shows dry upper levels west of Hurricane Matthew and abundant moisture surrounding the system (Fig. 1). Since water vapor imagery can only detect moisture characteristics in the mid-to upper- levels of the atmosphere, the NUCAPS soundings (green dots on Fig. 1) can be analyzed to provide more information about the vertical extent of the dry air and whether it is in close proximity to the hurricane in the mid- to lower- levels.
Scroll down through the example Soundings to compare the changes in moisture conditions west of Hurricane Matthew. Soundings 1 and 2 (Fig. 2 and 3), taken in a region of dry air as identified by the orange color enhancement on the water vapor imagery, confirm a dry column throughout the depth of the atmosphere. Sounding 3 (Fig. 4) shows the drying is not as intense in the upper-levels and mid-level drying extends down to about 600 mb. Sounding 4 and 5 (Fig. 5 and 6) show upper level conditions are more moist closer to the hurricane, as expected from the water vapor imagery. While Sounding 4 (Fig. 5) shows moist conditions throughout the atmospheric column, Sounding 5 (Fig. 6) does show mid-level dry air is present. Previous analysis of Sandy 2012 and Arthur 2014 showed the same signature (e. g., similar to Sounding 5) became more abundant surrounding the systems as upper-level dry air intruded. Currently, there are very few soundings with this signature surrounding Hurricane Matthew. The NUCAPS soundings confirm dry atmospheric conditions are well west of the system and there is very little mid- to low- level dry air in the proximity of the system. This preliminary example is presented but as Hurricane Matthew continues to evolve NUCAPS Soundings and SPoRT Ozone Products will be analyzed to discern the utility for anticipating dry air intrusion and associated hurricane tropical to extratropical transition.
Working midnight shifts this past weekend, I had the opportunity to take a look at the VIIRS Day-Night Band Imagery for the detection and analysis of fog. Early Monday morning, the observation at Ft. Payne was indicating fog with 1/2 statute mile visibility. However, the presence of thin cirrus over parts of the area did not allow for the observation of ground phenomena, including fog, in the region via traditional Shortwave IR imagery (Image 1). However, low clouds and fog were observed in the VIIRS Day-Night Band imagery since the cirrus were sufficiently translucent in the visible portion of the spectrum (Image 2).
I could show the standard fog product imagery (11-3.9 µm), but the story is essentially the same as that of the 3.9 µm imagery of course. The ability to see through thin cirrus is one of the primary advantages offered by the VIIRS Day-Night Band imagery and thus is among its most useful applications, operationally speaking. These imagery are a part of the JPSS Proving Ground and have been available in AWIPS here at the HUN office for several years now, including other SPoRT collaborative partners.
In this particular case, it was operationally advantageous to see that the extent of the fog was not widespread and was just confined to some of the more fog-prone valley locations, especially the Paint Rock Valley, and may have only been highly localized to Ft. Payne, or even just the Ft Payne airport observation location. Had the fog been observed through a larger area in Jackson and especially in DeKalb Counties, then a dense fog advisory might have been necessary.
So, recently I’ve had the opportunity to use and evaluate soundings from the NOAA Unique Combined Atmospheric Processing System (NUCAPS). These soundings, produced by the ATMS and CrIS instruments onboard the Suomi NPP satellite, are available in AWIPS generally twice per day over any given location.
A couple of advantages of the NUCAPS soundings is they’re available in relatively high spatial resolution (image 1) and also in between radiosonde launches. So, a forecaster wanting to know more about tropospheric conditions during the midday or early afternoon (usually the most crucial period for severe weather analysis) can utilize NUCAPS sounding data, since radiosonde data won’t be available until later in the evening (unless ~18 UTC launches are being conducted at their location). On a number of days in recent weeks, a lack of sufficient boundary layer moisture (probably partly due to an ongoing drought in the region) have dampened convective development. A good understanding of the degree of convective inhibition (CIN) present on a given day can be difficult to obtain and model analyses and forecasts don’t always seem to have a good handle on this. Even other robust analyses often struggle with a seemingly accurate depiction of CIN on many days. However, knowledge of CIN, among other factors, can be important when forecasting probabilities for convective development on summer days.
Recently however, I’ve noticed that NUCAPS soundings did indicate the presence of CIN when convective development was perhaps less than expected or forecast. July 20th was one of these days. Take a look at the NAM Bufr Sounding for HSV, valid for 19 UTC on 20 July 2016 (image 2).
The NAM Bufr model sounding indicated robust CAPE values (generally >2500 J/Kg) and little to no CIN. Now, let’s take a look at a couple of nearby representative NUCAPS soundings (unfortunately, they don’t include the associated data tables). Image 3 shows the locations of the NUCAPS soundings with respect to the KHSV observation site and the location in the NAM forecast sounding above (image 2).
Even though data tables are not shown from the NUCAPS soundings, notice that they indicate much less instability and less steep lapse rates than the NAM Bufr sounding prognostications for the same time (19 UTC). Also, notice that LCL levels are below the LFC, indicating some amount of CIN at both locations. If memory serves correctly, NUCAPS soundings indicated CIN values around 25-50 J/Kg at this time. So, for a forecaster struggling with the likelihood/coverage of convective development and the strength of convective updrafts, the NUCAPS data would have suggested lesser magnitude for both, over the NAM progs. Image 5 shows the general dearth of convective activity in the area of northern Alabama near 19 UTC that day. And indeed, convection was generally limited through the afternoon, with mostly isolated, small cells present.
When viewing the NUCAPS soundings, I’ve generally been looking for CAPE/CIN values while in the convective season. Of course, having to click on a number of soundings can be a bit laborious. As part of a JPSS Proving-Ground/Risk Reduction multi-organization project, researchers at CIMSS, CIRA, GINA and NASA SPoRT have developed gridded NUCAPS data, which were utilized in the Hazardous Weather Testbed this past spring. I’ll be working with members of the SPoRT team to ingest those data in AWIPS II here at the HUN office in the near future for my own testing, evaluation and feedback to the NUCAPS group within the JPSS Proving Ground. I’m looking forward to the future use and evaluation of these potentially useful operational data sets.
A potent winter storm system impacted portions of New Mexico on March 26, 2016, ending an extended stretch of very dry weather. Snowfall amounts of 3 to 9 inches were reported from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains eastward across the northeast plains. The MODIS and VIIRS satellite products proved useful for illustrating the extent of snow cover in both the daytime and nighttime scenes. The images below are graphical briefings posted to the NWS Albuquerque web page and shared via Twitter after this much needed snowfall event.