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Archive for the ‘VIIRS’ Category

The Albuquerque NWS recently began receiving an updated NESDIS snowfall rate (SFR) product from NASA SPoRT. We were anxious to see how the updated product performed during our most recent winter storm. A fast moving upper level trough and associated Pacific Front blasted into western New Mexico on the afternoon of Saturday, December 13. The upper low deepened and closed off over New Mexico with wrap around snow impacting northeast New Mexico through mid-day Sunday, December 14.  Ahead of the system, temperatures were very warm with Albuquerque reporting a high of 61 and Santa Fe reporting a high of 57 on Saturday.  The RGB snow-cloud product from 2045Z on Sunday depicts snow cover following the event. Four areas in the state were impacted – the western high terrain, the San Juan and Sangre de Cristo Mountains (mainly west slopes) in north central New Mexico, and extreme northeastern corner of New Mexico. Four yellow ovals mark areas to be discussed in this blog entry. Strong westerly, downslope flow on the backside of this storm system resulted in the snow-free region along the eastern slopes between Taos and Raton.
SnowCloud121414_2045Z

In the loop below, the 0.5 reflectivity mosaic and surface observations show the surface front moving into western New Mexico (left most oval in the snow-cloud product) during the period from 1942Z to 2318Z. In the first image, the winds have shifted to the northwest in Farmington (FMN) and rain is reported as temperatures are too warm to support snow. Note that throughout the loop the Farmington area, especially west and north of the site, there are no radar returns. The Four Corners area has poor to no radar coverage and it is an area where we hope the SFR product will help us. Snow was reported at Gallup (GUP) by 2030Z.

0.5 Reflectivity 1942Z to 2318Z

The SFR product was limited during this initial period, with only one swath covering New Mexico at 2034Z (shown below). This image (obtained from the SPoRT product page) shows that snow is detected in northeast Utah and northwest Colorado, but not in northwest New Mexico.  The Gallup area ended up with about one inch of snow while higher terrain south of Gallup reported two to three inches. While only rain was reported at the Farmington ASOS, the snow-cloud product shows some snow just to the east of Farmington where reports of one-half to an inch of snow was reported.

SPoRT_SFR_121314_2034Z

The next SFR product with coverage over New Mexico had a timestamp of 0338Z (14 December 2014), and is compared to the composite reflectivity image of 0336Z in the image below. Reflectivity is strongest just west and northwest of the Albuquerque ASOS (ABQ), which is reporting rain. The cold front however was moving quickly from west to east toward the ABQ metro area. The strong reflectivity returns to the northwest of Albuqurque are actually bright banding as rain began changing over to snow. The dual polarization hydrometeor classification algorithm showed the rain/snow line shifting quickly eastward. Fifteen minutes prior to this image, rain transition to snow was reported in Rio Rancho, just northwest of Albuquerque. The higher terrain just east of Albuquerque, the Sandia and Manzano Mountains, did receive snow accumulations of two to four inches and the SFR product highlights that area with light rates (blue) of about .02 inches/hour. The Santa Fe area (SAF) is not reporting snow at this time, but is highlighted with the max values of SFR, though snow reports in the Santa Fe area were generally less than 2 inches.  Recall that afternoon temperature were quite warm, making it difficult for snow to accumulate. The SFR product also depicts rates up to .05 inches/hour over the Sangre de Cristo mountains north and east of Santa Fe, where accumulations of 4 to 8 inches were reported. Interestingly, the SFR product is estimating precipitation around Santa Fe when the radar reflectivity pattern and observation do not indicate rain or snow. A portion of this area to the immediate northeast and east of ABQ is beam-blocked by the Sandia Mountains (yellow oval southwest of SAF).

mosaic_Comp_Ref_20141214_0336_SFR_0338Z

A similar comparison is shown for 13 hours later, or around 1655Z on December 15. (Another image was available around 08Z, but is not discussed in the post.)  Note that the SFR product depicts accumulating snow, albeit light, from eastern Taos through all but extreme southern Colfax County. Two stations (KAXX and KRTN) are reporting snow, but radar composite reflectivities do not extend over either location. Snow did accumulate at KAXX, but not at Raton (KRTN) where temperatures hovered right above freezing.

mosaic_Comp_Ref_20141214_1642_SFR_1645Z

Snow that is evident in extreme northeast New Mexico occurred after mainly 16Z and was associated with persistent wrap around precipitation (a SFR product was not available). The SFR product was not used in near real time for this event but was re-examined only a short time thereafter. However, the product did validate that we will indeed be able to complement radar void coverage areas in an operational forecast environment using polar-orbiting satellite imagery. This example will also serve to highlight potential product applications, advantages, and disadvantages for forecaster training prior to the upcoming NESDIS evaluation period.

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I’ve written about the operational utility of Day-Night Band (DNB) RGB imagery several times in the SPoRT blog, and here I’m going to take the chance to do that again.  First, just some brief background information in case you’re not familiar with this type of imagery.  The DNB RGB is composed of a long wave IR channel (~10.8 µm), which is assigned to the blue color component of the RGB recipe, while the DNB channel (0.7 µm) is assigned equally to the red/green colors of the RGB.  SPoRT produces two DNB RGB products: Radiance and Reflectance.  I typically prefer the Radiance RGB for operational uses since it is composed of the raw data (emitted and reflected light) from the sensor.  Sure, cities are quite bright in the imagery, but the cloud features also stand out better compared to the reflectance product, where the data are normalized by the available amount of moonlight. Below are a few observations from the Suomi-NPP VIIRS instrument during this most recent full moon cycle.

First, take a look at the images below from the SE half of the CONUS on the early morning of December 7th.  The top image (Image 1) is a Nighttime Microphysics RGB at approx. 0736 UTC, while Image 2 is a DNB Radiance RGB valid at the same time.  While this type of imagery is far superior to legacy IR imagery (even enhanced with fanciful color curves), there are proper operational forecasting/analysis applications that one has to consider.  The Nighttime Microphysics RGB is generally more useful for distinguishing different cloud types (e.g., low stratus vs fog, thin cirrus vs thick cirrus, etc).  After at least a year of viewing the DNB imagery, I think perhaps the best application of these types of imagery (at least with respect to operational forecasting) lies in the ability to view low clouds through cirrus at night.  No other imagery available to forecasters offers this capability currently.  Take for example these first two images below and pay close attention to the cloudy regions stretching from the central Plains into the lower Mississippi Valley.

Image 1.  Nighttime Microphysics RGB 0736 UTC 7 Dec 2014

Image 1. Nighttime Microphysics RGB 0736 UTC 7 Dec 2014.  Ceiling and Visibility observations from some ASOS and AWOS stations also shown in cyan.

Suomi-NPP VIIRS Day-Night Band Radiance RGB 0736 UTC 7 Dec 2014.  Ceiling/Visibility observations are shown in cyan.  Notice that details of the extensive deck of low clouds can be seen more easily than in the Nighttime Microphysics RGB.

Image 2.  Suomi-NPP VIIRS Day-Night Band Radiance RGB 0736 UTC 7 Dec 2014. Ceiling/Visibility observations are shown in cyan. Notice that details of the extensive deck of low clouds can be seen more easily than in the Nighttime Microphysics RGB.

Notice that in the Nighttime Microphysics RGB the expansive deck of low stratus across much of Kansas, southwestern Missouri and Oklahoma is almost entirely obscured by the cold cirrus clouds.  Of course, this is only realized upon looking at the DNB imagery.  Details in the low stratus can also be observed in the DNB imagery, such as the cloud banding stretching SW-NE across much of northern Louisiana and Mississippi.  Since the cloud bases in this imagery were mostly at MVFR and IFR levels with respect to aviation forecast concerns, knowledge about the details and characteristics of the low clouds are very important.

The next series of images from the New England region in the early morning hours of December 9th again demonstrates this application of the DNB imagery.

Image 3.  Suomi-NPP VIIRS IR (~10.8 u m) 0658 UTC 9 Dec 2014.  Ceiling/visibility observations from regional ASOS/AWPS are shown in cyan.

Image 3. Suomi-NPP VIIRS IR (~10.8 µm) 0658 UTC 9 Dec 2014. Ceiling/visibility observations from regional ASOS/AWPS are shown in cyan.

Image 4.  VIIRS Nighttime Microphysics RGB 0658 UTC 9 Dec 2014.  Ceiling/visibility observations shown in cyan.

Image 4. VIIRS Nighttime Microphysics RGB 0658 UTC 9 Dec 2014. Ceiling/visibility observations shown in cyan.

Image 5.  VIIRS DNB Radiance RGB 0658 UTC 9 Dec 2014.  Ceiling/visibility observations shown in cyan.

Image 5. VIIRS DNB Radiance RGB 0658 UTC 9 Dec 2014. Ceiling/visibility observations shown in cyan.

In the images above, notice that the extensive low cloud deck across the region that spans from Maine to at least as far south as northeastern North Carolina cannot readily be observed either in the legacy IR (10.8 µm ) imagery or in the Nighttime Microphysics RGB.  However, more details about the low clouds can be discerned from the DNB imagery.  Sure, cirrus clouds are optically thick enough to prevent viewing of any low clouds in the NY metro area.  Nevertheless, the advantages of the DNB imagery for detecting low clouds beneath thin cirrus can clearly be seen.  Again, as expressed earlier, this type of imagery certainly offers application for aviation forecasting, in particular.

Lastly, here are some observations from just this morning (Dec 10th) over the Rio Grande Valley region.

VIIRS color-enhanced IR (10.8 u m) image 0819 UTC 10 Dec 2014.  Ceiling/visibility observations are shown in cyan.

Image 6.  VIIRS color-enhanced IR (10.8 µm) image 0819 UTC 10 Dec 2014. Ceiling/visibility observations are shown in cyan.

Image 7.  VIIRS DNB Radiance RGB 0819 UTC 10 Dec 2014.  Ceiling/visibility observations are shown in cyan.

Image 7. VIIRS DNB Radiance RGB 0819 UTC 10 Dec 2014. Ceiling/visibility observations are shown in cyan.

In the VIIRS IR image (Image 6) just as in previous IR imagery the cirrus clouds obscure the presence of any clouds beneath.  However, the patchy low clouds in eastern New Mexico can be much more easily seen in the DNB imagery.  In the area between Midland, TX (KMAF) and Fort Stockton (KFST), a forecaster might have made the assumption that the low clouds were continuous based on the observations alone and without the aid of the DNB imagery.  Yet, what becomes noticeable in the DNB imagery is that a gap exists in the low cloud deck.

Of course, with all of this said, the availability of the imagery severely limits its application for operational forecasting and analysis.  Generally, only one or two passes are available over a given location on any night.  Also, due to moonlight limitations, the imagery are only available for about half of the month…at best.  I can only lament that the DNB imagery will not be available on a geo-stationary platform (at least anytime soon).  Nevertheless, understanding the limitations of the imagery while also appreciating its advantages can offer operational utility when applied properly to a forecast challenge.

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Starting around 07Z last night, we noticed a station in the far northeast corner of Colorado reporting some reduction in visibility, with no other stations nearby reporting any reduction.  We couldn’t see any indication in the 11u-3.9u IR satellite imagery.  Once the VIIRS DNB imagery came in of the 09:04UTC imagery set, it was definitely evident in the Nighttime Microphysics channel, slightly in the Dust RGB channel, but not at all in the other DNB channels.  Good to know the sensor was reporting correctly!

20141026_0904_sport_viirs_frontrange_dnbrefrgb 20141026_0904_sport_viirs_frontrange_11um 20141026_0904_sport_viirs_frontrange_dust 20141026_0904_sport_viirs_frontrange_ntmicro

Seen above, top to bottom:  VIIRS DNB Reflectance RGB, IR Longwave, Dust RGB, Nighttime Microphysics imagery.  The latter definitely shows the small patch of fog clearly with the whiter (lower) clouds.

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I wanted to follow up with this sooner, but I’ve been rather busy preparing for the NWA conference.  Yep, I tend to be one of those “last-minute” people.  Anyway, just last week I posted an example showcasing the advantage of the VIIRS Day-Night Band Radiance RGB in detecting fog through cirrus clouds.  The next day, SPoRT collaborator Doug Schneider (Morristown WFO), followed up with another great example that I wanted to share.  I’m just going to take an excerpt from an email he sent to the Morristown staff…

“I know I’ve been sending out quite a few emails lately about NASA SPoRT products, so please bear with me, but I thought this was a great example of how they can add value.

I’ve mentioned the MODIS/VIIRS Fog product before, but sometimes there are better products available for identifying fog, especially when thin cirrus are present. In the MODISVIIRS Fog product image that is attached, you can see that it is difficult to see the extent of fog. There’s clearly some in the Sequatchie Valley, but there is also some in the NE TN/SW VA area that can’t be easily seen.

The attached MODIS/VIIRS Nighttime Microphysics product also shows fog in the southern areas where it is clear (fog is light blue colors), but cirrus obscures NE sections.

The VIIRS Day/Night Band Radiance RGB product does the best job showing the extent of fog. Fog is clearly identified in the valleys of SW VA and NE TN, despite the presence of cirrus. The extent of fog is also more easily seen in the central and southern valley areas.

The attached menu image shows where you can find the Day/Night Band Radiance RGB product under the Satellite -> NASA SPoRT -> Polar Imager -> MODIS/VIIRS -> SR East menus.

Remember that these products are from a polar-orbiting satellite, and may only be available once a night, usually between 07z and 10z.”

I’ve included the images he referenced below, and circled the specific area of fog in NE Tennessee / SW Virginia that he was mentioning.

Suomi-NPP VIIRS Day-Night Band Radiance RGB, 0724 UTC 10 Oct 2014.  Circled area shows valley fog not detectable in subsequent GOES or VIIRS NT Microphysics images.

Suomi-NPP VIIRS Day-Night Band Radiance RGB, 0724 UTC 10 Oct 2014. Circled area shows valley fog not detectable in subsequent GOES or VIIRS NT Microphysics images.

Suomi-NPP VIIRS 11-3.9 um image, 0724 UTC 10 Oct 2014.  Notice that high cirrus clouds (blue colors) obscure the fog below.

Suomi-NPP VIIRS 11-3.9 um image, 0724 UTC 10 Oct 2014. Notice that high cirrus clouds (blue colors) obscure the fog below.

Suomi-NPP VIIRS Nighttime Microphysics RGB, 0724 UTC 10 Oct 2014.  Fog can be seen in other areas to the south/southwest, but not beneath the cold, cirrus clouds (under the yellow circle) since this RGB recipe contains multi-spectral IR components.

Suomi-NPP VIIRS Nighttime Microphysics RGB, 0724 UTC 10 Oct 2014. Fog can be seen in other areas to the south/southwest, but not beneath the cold, cirrus clouds (under the yellow circle) since this RGB recipe contains multi-spectral IR components.

This is exactly the kind of inter-office sharing SPoRT is looking for from our close partners.  We greatly thank Doug and the Morristown office for their collaborative efforts!

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I’ve blogged about this particular use of VIIRS Day-Night Band imagery before, but wanted to take a moment to showcase this excellent example from last night.  In the early morning hours of Thursday, Oct 9th, fog began developing in the valleys of Jackson County, AL (denoted by the yellow circle), as it often does on nights with high relative humidity and light winds.  Of course, save for a scant observation or two, a forecaster would not have known because of the presence of high, thin cirrus clouds that obscured the fog below.  Take a look at this GOES-IR image from early that morning (Image 1).

Image.  GOES-IR image over northern Alabama and surrounding areas, valid 0745 UTC 9 October 2014

Since this is an IR image, temperatures from the colder cirrus clouds saturate the instrument signal across northeastern portions of Alabama, where the fog occurred.  Clearly, fog could not be discerned in this type of imagery due to the presence of cirrus.  Next, let’s take a look at a Nighttime Microphysics RGB image from the Suomi-NPP VIIRS instrument valid at about the same time (Image 2).

Image 2. Nighttime Microphysics RGB from the Suomi-NPP VIIRS instrument, valid 0743 UTC 9 October 2014

Even here (in what has become favorite imagery of mine) the fog is not clearly detectable.  Perhaps a faint hint of fog, indicated by a narrow sliver of whitish-gray can be seen in the far northwest corner of Jackson County.  Nevertheless, since this RGB recipe utilizes different IR components, the cirrus once again obscures the fog below.  Now, let’s take a look at SPoRT”s Day-Night Band Radiance RGB valid at the same time (Image 3).

Image 3.  Day-Night Band Radiance RGB from the Suomi-NPP VIIRS instrument, valid 0743 UTC 9 October 2014

The fog is much more clearly observed in this imagery since thin cirrus are mostly translucent in the VIIRS nighttime visible band.  This image, as stated, is an RGB and also employs a longwave IR channel (~11 µm), giving the cirrus a blue appearance.

Visibility observations are only available from one site in this area, at the Scottsboro, AL airport, which is located near the center of the circle.  At 0800 UTC, the visibility at the location was 7 SM, but dropped to 1/4 SM by 0900 UTC.  However, that is just one small point location.  Forecasters really need a better understanding of the extent of the fog for special weather statements or dense fog advisories that address the threat.  After viewing the Day-Night Band imagery for well over a year now, I think the ability to see fog and other phenomena through cirrus at night is one of the best applications of the DNB imagery, at least from an operational forecast perspective.

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A unique weather event is unfolding this week as Hurricane Odile, now a tropical storm, is impacting Baja California Sur, bringing heavy rain and high winds to the region and causing tourists to evacuate resorts. The National Hurricane Center reports that Odile ties Olivia (1967) as the strongest hurricane to make landfall in the satellite era in Baja California Sur**. NASA SPoRT provides specialized satellite products to National Weather Service Forecast Offices as well as National Centers such as the National Hurricane Center to aid forecasting high impact events such as Hurricane Odile.

Below is an example of Passive Microwave RGB imagery created from the NASA Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission as part of The Core Observatory satellite launched on 27 February 2014. The images are in N-AWIPS (National Centers for Environmental Prediction Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System) format and are an example of products available to forecasters at the National Hurricane Center.  Forecasters use the 89 GHz RGB product to look for areas of strong convection which show up as deep red as seen in Fig. 1 which captures Hurricane Odile a few hours before landfall.

89 GHz RGB 0121 UTC 15 September 2014. Areas of deep convection appear red and can be seen surrounding the eye wall and within the rainbands of Odile in this image a few hours before landfall.

Figure 1. GMI 89 GHz RGB 0121 UTC 15 September 2014. Areas of deep convection appear red and can be seen surrounding the eye and within the rainbands of Hurricane Odile in this image a few hours before landfall.

The 37 GHz can additionally be used to distinguish areas of deep cloudiness (light blue) from more active convection (pink) as well as open water (green) or land (cyan).  Note the areas of pink or active convective in Fig. 2 surrounding the eye and within the rainbands.

odile_37RGB1

Figure 2. GMI 37 GHz RGB 0121 UTC 15 September 2014. Areas of active convection appear pink and can be seen surrounding the eye and within the rainbands of Hurricane Odile in this image a few hours before landfall.

Figure 3 and 4 show similar observations from the legacy NASA Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission (TRMM) as Hurricane Odile made landfall near Cabo San Lucas around 445 UTC 15 September. TRMM is expected to run out of fuel by February 2016 and will no longer be available to collect valuable observations. We are well prepared for a replacement with GPM in orbit and already collecting observations.

TRMM 89 GHz RGB 0307 UTC 15 September 2014

Figure 3. TRMM 89 GHz RGB 0307 UTC 15 September 2014.  Areas of deep convection appear red and can be seen surrounding the eye and within the rainbands of Hurricane Odile in this image a little over one hour before landfall.

TRMM 37 GHz RGB

Figure 4. TRMM 37 GHz RGB 0307 UTC 15 September 2014.  Areas of active convection appear pink and can be seen surrounding the eye and within the rainbands of Hurricane Odile in this image a little over one hour before landfall.

Additionally the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) Day-Night Band Radiance imagery from the next generation NASA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite shows an impressive picture of Hurricane Odile approximately one day before landfall (Fig. 5). Note the city lights that can be seen through the clouds in Fig. 5 as well as lightning within the area of convection in the rainband. This imagery can be used to support disaster response and help emergency managers identify the areas where conditions have caused power outages. Local knowledge of city light patterns can allow users to identify where the most significant power outages are and determine where to begin relief efforts.

VIIRS Day-Night Band Radiance

Figure 5. VIIRS Day-Night Band Radiance 0904 UTC 14 September 2014. City lights and lightning observed approximately one day before Hurricane Odile made landfall.

As the community transitions from legacy instruments such at TRMM and MODIS, NASA SPoRT will continue to develop unique products from Next-Generation missions such as GPM and Suomi NPP to aid National Weather Service Forecast Offices and National Centers in forecasting high impact events such as Hurricane Odile.

**see archived National Hurricane Center forecast discussion at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/2014/ep15/ep152014.discus.021.shtml?

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Kevin Fuell:

Here is an excellent satellite imagery interpretation by Paul Nutter of the Great Falls WFO regarding the Nighttime Microphysics RGB. As Paul demonstrates with his ability to describe this image and support its value based on current imagery, training and continued experience can lead to efficient use of RGB-type imagery.

Originally posted on TFX-shoptalk:

A strong early season cold front pushed through Montana from Alberta on 9 September 2014. The front produced several layers of cloud cover that appeared richly on the Nighttime Microphysics RGB imagery. This provides an excellent case for a study of capabilities we expect to have available on the GOES-R platform.

WPC Daily Weather Map valid 12 UTC 9 Sept 2014 WPC Daily Weather Map valid 12 UTC 9 Sept 2014

SPoRT VIIRS Night-time Microphysics RGB valid 0844 UTC 09-Sep-2014. SPoRT VIIRS Night-time Microphysics RGB valid 0844 UTC 09-Sep-2014.

Table 1. Wavelength Band or band difference contributions to the RGB triplets and their physical interpretation used within the Nighttime Microphysics RGB composite imagery.

Color Band / Band Diff. Physically Relates to: Little contribution to composite indicates: Large contribution to composite indicates:
Red 12.0 – 10.8 Optical Depth Thin clouds Thick clouds
Green 10.8 – 3.9 Particle Phase and Size Ice particles;
Surface (i.e. cloud free)
Water clouds with
small particles
Blue 10.8 Temperature of surface Cold surface Warm surface

Violet colored…

View original 587 more words

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