SPoRT has been part of a multi-organizational collaboration within the JPSS Sounding Initiative to develop products from Hyperspectral Infrared Sounders and assess the utility of the new observations in the operational environment. Many of the products and capabilities start out as a “proof of concept” and are then introduced to end users to incorporate end user feedback into the design and implementation process, one example of this is Gridded NUCAPS. The team has focused on satellite soundings processed through the NOAA Unique Combined Atmospheric Processing System (NUCAPS) which is the NOAA operational satellite sounding retrieval algorithm for hyperspectral infrared sounders on S-NPP and NOAA-20. Currently NOAA-20 NUCAPS Soundings and Gridded Products are available to all National Weather Forecast Offices. A recent article “Adapting Satellite Soundings for Operational Forecasting within the Hazardous Weather Testbed” highlights the applied research, assessment of satellite soundings in a quasi-operational setting, and the role of end-user feedback in adapting products/capabilities to meet end users’ needs. The team comprised of algorithm developers, product developers, and end users has found ways to interact, translate science to operations/operations back to science, leveraging the cross-benefit of science and applications to guide applied research to improve satellite sounding algorithms and products.
The success of NUCAPS for the Cold Air Aloft aviation hazard and diagnosing the pre-convective environment along with the accessibility of NUCAPS products to end users has led to applied research to assess the utility of products for additional applications (Berndt et al. 2020). NASA’s 2017 Decadal Survey points out “The final missing piece of applications research in the agencies is the very initial phase of creating applications—supporting studies that have an idea about how an application might work, and then attempting to create a community for it, and demonstrate its utility”. There are complex barriers that exist when identifying end users and transitioning relevant data to meet their needs. As pointed out by NASA’s 2017 Decadal Survey “… the applications field is becoming associated with a science of its own…” Recently, SPoRT has investigated the utility of NUCAPS products for fire weather applications as a “proof of concept”. As SPoRT engages with users on application of NUCAPS observations, a new interactive training was developed to communicate the value and utility of these data. SPoRT has found that creating short, focused, applications-based training can remove some barriers to end users integrating new data and capabilities in operations. Last SPoRT has created a NUCAPS webpage where scientist and users can find information relevant to NUCAPS products, resources such as training, blogs, peer-reviewed literature, and data access.
New Interactive training on application of NUCAPS products to assess fire weather conditions –> Go to training
NUCAPS resource webpage for scientists and end users –> Go to webpage
Written by Emily Berndt and Jordan Bell
SPoRT was established in 2002 to transition NASA satellite data and capabilities to improve short-term weather forecasting with an emphasis on National Weather Service (NWS) end users. With the goal of maximizing the benefit of NASA research and capabilities to benefit society, SPoRT has developed innovative solutions to bring research products to operations and tailor them to meet end user needs. Over the past decade SPoRT has been at the forefront of a range of activities, making notable contributions to NASA LIS and WRF Hydro, the GOES-R/JPSS Proving Grounds, and the GPM, SMAP, and SWOT Early Adopter Programs. With an initial focus on partners in the southeastern U.S., SPoRT has expanded partnerships to include end users in all NWS Regions, National Centers, and other government agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service, U.S.D.A., and state environmental agencies. Over the decade SPoRT has consistently used a research to operations/operations to research paradigm to interact with end users, involving them in the process of product development, tailored training, and product assessment/feedback. This process has even led to algorithm improvements within GPM IMERG and the NESDIS Snowfall Rate to accelerate operational use of research products. Interaction with end users has even led to the pursuit of research projects such as limb correction to improve RGB imagery and interpretation or developing a methodology to correct land surface model data with satellite soil moisture. In order to introduce experimental products into the fast-paced operational environment SPoRT developed applications-based training concepts such as the Quick Guide that has been shared with and adopted by others in the community. Also notable- early activities within SPoRT to leverage NASA data for disaster response, led to a bigger presence in and significant contributions to the NASA Disasters Program. Below is a review of notable publications, blog posts and tweets over the past decade:
— 2010 —
Top Blog Post
Hurricane Earl as seen in the EUMETSAT “Daytime Microphysics” RGB composite, which uses visible and near-infrared reflectance, combined with an infrared channel, to separate cloud types such as convection, low clouds, and fog.
Application of the EUMETSAT “Air Mass” enhancement, which uses infrared brightness temperature channel differencing to enhance mid- to high-level clouds, moisture (greens) and relatively drier air (browns).
Hurricane Earl as viewed from the MODIS aboard Aqua, using three channels in the visible spectrum to produce a true color composite.
— 2011 —
Top Blog Post
250m MODIS Visible Image (Marion, Franklin, and Lawrence Counties) – 5-11-11 1640 UTC (Click to Enlarge)
250m MODIS Visible Image – 5-11-11 1640 UTC
500m MODIS Color Composite (5-11-11 1640 UTC)
— 2012 —
Top Blog Post
Figure 5. SPoRT Dust RGB product valid 0358Z 19 October 2012. The yellow circle indicates the dust plume that originated in SW Nebraska. In this nighttime image, the dust shows up as a brighter pink color when compared to the softer pinks and light purples of the cooling surface. Notice the highest concentration of dust was across central portions of Oklahoma into western Arkansas.
Image 1. Photograph taken atop the NSSTC building at about 0730 CDT.
— 2013 —
Top Blog Post
— 2014 —
Top Blog Post
— 2015 —
Top Blog Post
Fig. 2. U.S. Drought Monitor weekly drought product valid 29 September 2015.
Fig. 4. One-week change in SPoRT-LIS total column relative soil moisture for the week ending 5 October 2015, as displayed in AWIPS II.
Fig. 5. Experimental SPoRT-LIS total column relative soil moisture percentile product, valid at 1200 UTC on (left panel) 27 September, and (right panel) 4 October 2015.
— 2016 —
Top Blog Post
— 2017 —
Top Blog Post
— 2018 —
Top Blog Post
— 2019 —
Top Blog Posts
Image 1. GLM data shows apparently meteor over western portions of Cuba at ~1818 UTC 1 Feb 2019. The GLM Flash Extent Density overlay GOES-16 visible (0.64 um) imagery from ~1817 UTC.
Image 2. GLM (Flash Extent Density) and GOES-16 visible imagery (0.64 µm) loop from 1802-1830 UTC, 01 Feb 2019. An apparent meteor shows up in western Cuba at 1818 UTC in the loop. Also, notice the active deep convection and lightning over the Gulf of Mexico during the period.
Image 3. Kincade Fire burn scar,
Into the next decade
During the past decade SPoRT has made notable contributions to bridge the valley of death to transition research to operations and maximize the benefit of NASA and NOAA remote sensing observations for the benefit of society. SPoRT has conducted a range of research in key areas including modeling and satellite data assimilation, remote sensing, and lightning. In addition, SPoRT has partnered with other researchers, product/algorithm developers, and end users to assess products in the operational environment, create training, and assess their utility. The team has observed research capabilities transform into operational products as a result of end user interaction and many of those examples are highlighted above! Into the next decade SPoRT will continue to foster interaction between research and operations as well as conduct research in focus areas that include lighting, synoptic/mesoscale meteorology, tropical meteorology, land surface modeling, health/air quality, and hazards. SPoRT has already begun engaging in new NASA missions such as TEMPO and TROPICS that will bring unprecedented observations to benefit science and applications. In addition, SPoRT is using their expertise in transition of research to operations to anticipate applications of future missions by actively participating in the NASA Decadal Survey Designated Observable studies. We look forward to continuing to bridge the gap between research and operations, bringing new NASA capabilities to end users, in the new decade ahead! Thank you to all the SPoRT team members, collaborators, and end users who have contributed to many of the projects described above.
So, we’ve finally begun the process of transitioning over fully to the new CONUS version of the SPoRT LIS. This “new” version of the SPoRT LIS has been under development actually for several years now, and underwent initial testing and evaluation at the Huntsville WFO in spring 2015, followed by an evaluation by several WFOs and RFCs in summer 2015. Image 1 below shows the differences in the domains. The new version of the SPoRT LIS encompasses the entire CONUS and surrounding areas of southern Canada and northern Mexico, albeit with some anticipated degradation especially in the border regions due to lack of consistent radar/precipitation coverage.
Image 1. The CONUS SPoRT LIS (left) and the approximate domain of the old Southeast CONUS version (right). Note: the images are from different periods.
Not only does the CONUS version offer a geographic expansion over the previous version of the LIS, but new variables are a part of the new SPoRT LIS, including 0-200 cm relative soil moisture changes on several timescales (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, seasonal, semi-annual and annual) soil moisture percentiles and soil temperatures. The soil moisture percentiles and change values can be especially useful for the drought designation and analysis process, and have been used in this capacity at the Huntsville office since their inception. Of course, there are other applications for hydrology, fire weather and blowing dust. We’re planning to explore more of these latter unique and interesting applications with several of SPoRT’s collaborative Western CONUS WFOs next spring and summer. The SPoRT LIS soil temperature data have shown promising application for impacts during winter weather events during evaluation of a few events in the previous winter, with more evaluation expected during the upcoming winter. In addition to the new variables, the new version of the SPoRT LIS is using NSSL’s Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor data for precipitation forcing in the near term and is also solely incorporating the VIIRS GVF over the legacy MODIS GVF.
Image 2. Examples of SPoRT LIS 0-200 cm relative soil moisture weekly change (left) and 0-200 cm relative soil moisture percentile (right)
Users of the SPoRT LIS and GVF data for their local modeling purposes will need to make the appropriate changes to their EMS/UEMS model runs to properly incorporate these new data sets. Please contact Jon Case at SPoRT or me (Kris White) if you have any questions. Thanks for reading!
During the afternoon and early evening hours on 2/15/2016, a large area of rain covered much of northeast Kentucky and southeast Ohio as well as the western half of West Virginia.
An upper level disturbance then moved across the area during the evening and overnight hours with the rainfall mixing with and then transitioning to all snow.
I wanted to show how the SFR image performed during this transition. The image above is from 0220 UTC on 2/16/2016. At that time, much of the precipitation across West Virginia was still in the form of rain…with an area of snow extending from northwest Pennsylvania across central Ohio into southwest portions of that state.
There appears to be several observations of rain across Ohio with surface temperatures of 32 to 35 DegF where the SFR product indicated snow in the clouds. It does appear that where surface temperatures were warmer than 35 DegF, the SFR product did not indicate any snow in the clouds.
From an earlier post, I believe the SFR throws out snow when the model-based 10-m temperatures exceeded 33 DegF. Is this filter working in this situation?
On Jan 26 2014, an upper level shortwave caused an area of light snow across Ohio, western Pennsylvania and the northern counties of West Virginia. Surface temperatures were quite cold with readings generally in the teens. Even at these cold temperatures, the SFR product did indicate snowfall across the far northern counties of our forecast area.
The maximum snowfall rates indicated on the 1605 UTC product was about 0.3 to 0.4 inches per hour. Based on reports, these numbers appear to be representative of what actually was occurring.
While this is just one case, the SFR product appears to work reasonably well at temperatures below 22 DegF.
On Jan 25 2014, a mid-level shortwave moved across the region generating light to moderate snow. I have included screen captures of the 1118 UTC regional radar mosaic and surface observations…along with a 1120 UTC Snowfall Rate Product and surface observations.
It looks like the SFR product did not detect all of the snow that was falling around 11 UTC. But the misses can generally be described as either (1) the surface temperatures being too cold or (2) the probabilistic model, that is part of the calulations, indicating probabilities that were too low to determine if there was snow.
Once you know all of the details on how the product is calculated, I think this product did a good job at detailing where the snowfall was occurring.
The highest snowfall rates indicated by this image was around 0.3 to 0.5 inches which seems to be representative of what was occurring.
When I examined the 1522 UTC SFR product, I noticed there was an absence of snow across our forecast area. Radar and surface observations indicated that light to moderate snow was continuing across most of our counties.
Per the Quick Guide, I checked the surface observations to see if the temperatures were about 22 DegF or colder. The temperatures across our northern and western counties were actually 22 DegF or colder. So the SFR product was behaving as it should across those counties.
However, the temperatures across the remainder of our region were above 22 DegF. The snow is definitely not lake effect as the current snow was still related to a shortwave which had pushed to our east.
What could be causing the lack of indicated snow across the portions of our area that still had surface temnperatures above 22 DegF?
I have attached a screen capture of the SFR product from 1024 UTC on 1/21/14. The label on the image is wrong. It states the units of the product are in/hr. But they are actually mm/hr.
During this time, we were having widespread light to moderate snow as an upper level disturbance moved across our forecast area. Reports around 2 inches of snow were common around the time of the product. We had received reports of snow coming down around an inch per hour. The maximum SFR detected in the product was 1.6 mm/hr…or 0.06 in/hr. Using a ratio of 15:1 yields a maximum snowfall rate around 0.9 inches per hour.
While we had several surface observations from which we could estimate precipitation rates, our WSR-88D was not operating correctly. The legacy precipitation were okay. But the Dual Pol precipitation products were not totally reliable due to equipment issues. So the additional information from the SFR product should have helped estimate the precipitation rates.
Effective 10 September, the real-time SPoRT-LIS running over much of the southern and eastern U.S. was upgraded with several improvements.
The upgrade is transparent to Environmental Modeling System (EMS) end-users, since file and data formats are the same and the EMS processing with the “lis” land surface model (LSM) option operates the same as before. However, it is highly recommended that EMS end-users currently running the “lis” option consider changing to the land-use database described in the 2nd bullet below.
The most noteworthy modifications and improvements are:
- Updated LIS software to support an upgrade from Noah LSM version 2.7.1 to version 3.2. This upgrade includes an improved look-up table methodology for some static fields and improved handling of heat fluxes over snow-covered regions.
- Changed land-use classification (vegetation type) from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) 24-class database to the newer International Geosphere Biosphere Programme (IGBP)/MODIS 20-class database. The IGBP/MODIS database is more up-to-date than the USGS database, especially with urban classifications.
- Switched from a coarse-resolution surface albedo climatology to a look-up table methodology for surface albedo based on (a) input Green Vegetation Fraction (GVF) data from the high-resolution SPoRT-MODIS real-time product and (b) the newer IGBP/MODIS land-use database. A sample real-time SPoRT-MODIS GVF map projected onto the 3-km LIS domain is given in Figure 1, showing a comparison between the monthly climatological GVF and the real-time MODIS GVF data from 30 August. An example comparison between the original climatological specification of surface albedo and the newer look-up table methodology using real-time SPoRT-MODIS vegetation data is given in Figure 2 from the same day. Both of these upgrades will improve the surface energy budget in the real-time LIS.
- Modified the long-term atmospheric forcing (excluding precipitation) that drives the LIS-Noah LSM integration from the North American Land Data Assimilation System (NLDAS) to NLDAS phase 2 (NLDAS-2).
Contact SPoRT for the official upgrade documentation for further details.
Figure 1. Comparison between the default monthly climatological Green Vegetation Fraction (GVF, in percent) time-interpolated to 30 August (left), and real-time SPoRT-MODIS GVF on 30 August 2012 (right). Note the much lower GVF over the Midwest in the SPoRT-MODIS dataset corresponding to the substantial drought. (Click image twice for full size)
Figure 2. Comparison between climatological surface albedo (%) time-interpolated to 30 August in the former LIS configuration (left), and surface albedo as a function of the real-time SPoRT-MODIS GVF in the upgraded LIS configuration (right). Note the higher surface albedo corresponding to lower SPoRT-MODIS GVF in the Plains and Midwest regions. (Click image twice for full size)
Many from the NASA SPoRT group will be participating in NOAA Satellite Science Week this week in Kansas City, MO. Below is a picture of Principal Investigator, Gary Jedlovec, of the NASA SPoRT program giving his first of several talks during this week. On Tuesday afternoon, Geoffrey Stano will be participating in a panel discussion on lightning, which will include training and future development activities and direction. On Thursday morning, Jason Burks of NWS Huntsville, AL and Gary Jedlovec will give a talk on SPoRT involvement in AWIPS II applications. Talks Friday morning will be dominated by RGB products and applications. Gary will give a talk at 8 am about the “RGB joint project motivation and status”, followed by Kevin Fuell of SPoRT, with a talk about RGB computation and transition to the NWS. Finally, Gary will join others for an open discussion period about the new and exciting RGB products. I’ll have more pictures and notes to share as we progress through the week.