Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) observes three tropical cyclones in the eastern Pacific

The large field of view of the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) offers forecasters a new way to monitor tropical cyclones.  In particular, the GLM will offer the opportunity to monitor total lightning (i.e., cloud-to-ground and intra-cloud) trends over the entire life cycle of the system.

The past few days have offered a very interesting opportunity with three tropical cyclones in the eastern Pacific basin; Tropical Storm Greg, Hurricane Hilary, and Tropical Storm Irwin.  The movie covers from 1310 UTC on July 23 through 1610 UTC on July 24.  A few features are interesting to point out.  First, notice the amount of lightning activity and diurnal change associated with the storms across Mexico (upper right of movie) versus the activity with the three tropical systems.  Also, check out the location of the lightning in tropical systems and whether it is in the central core or the outer bands.

Figure 1 is a still from the linked mp4 movie that is approximately 37 megabytes in size.

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Figure 1:  A still image from 0600 UTC on 24 July 2017 showing Tropical Storms Greg and Irwin as well as Hurricane Hilary in the eastern Pacific basin.  The cyclones are viewed with ABI at the full disk, 15 minute temporal resolution (and intentionally darkened to make the lightning observations stand out) and the GLM 8 km, 5 minute group densities. (Please click on image to enlarge.)

[37 MB] GLM group density over three tropical cyclones

NOTE:  NOAA’s GOES-16 satellite has not been declared operational and its data are preliminary and undergoing testing. Users receiving these data through any dissemination means  (including, but not limited to, PDA and GRB) assume all risk related to their use of GOES-16 data and NOAA disclaims any and all warranties, whether express or implied, including (without limitation) any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

GLM observes a long flash in Minnesota

One of the unique, new features of the Geostationary Lightning Mapper, or GLM, is the instrument’s ability to observe the spatial extent of lightning flashes.  This capability had been previously demonstrated with the ground-based lightning mapping arrays (LMAs).  The LMAs, however, only have a range of 200 km versus the GLM’s near hemispheric field of view.

The figure below shows the 1 min, 8 km GLM group density plot in AWIPS.  The GLM data have been intentionally made all yellow to highlight spatial extent only.  The GLM data are overlaid on the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) daytime convection red-green-blue (RGB) composite.  Here, the brighter, more yellow cloud tops indicate newer, more vigorous convection give large numbers of small, ice particles.  The redder cloud types are more mature/dissipating convection due to warmer cloud tops and amount of larger ice particles.  The GLM observes a flash that extends well behind the main convection (observed by the radar mosaic) and spans over 100 miles.  The extent is roughly between Duluth, Minnesota and International Falls, Minnesota.  This example shows the importance that the spatial extent of GLM observations can play in lightning safety as the threat of lightning is non-zero, even after the main convective line has passed.  This case will be analyzed further to compare with the National Lightning Detection Network and Earth Networks observations.

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Figure:  AWIPS screen capture of 1 min, 8 km GLM group densities (yellow, filled) overlaid on the ABI daytime convection RGB, along with the corresponding radar mosaic from NOAA (inset).  Annotations highlight the main features, particularly a long flash observed by the GLM (black dashed oval) that extended around 100 miles in the stratiform region across Minnesota on June 13, 2017.

NOTE:  NOAA’s GOES-16 satellite has not been declared operational and its data are preliminary and undergoing testing. Users receiving these data through any dissemination means  (including, but not limited to, PDA and GRB) assume all risk related to their use of GOES-16 data and NOAA disclaims any and all warranties, whether express or implied, including (without limitation) any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. 

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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GOES-R launching on November 19, 2016!