Category Archives: RealEarth Web Map Server

Day 7 of the Thomas Fire in Southern California

GOES-15 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with hourly surface reports plotted in yellow [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-15 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with hourly surface reports plotted in yellow [click to play MP4 animation]

The Thomas fire began burning in Southern California around 6:30 PM local time on 04 December (blog post) — and on 10 December 2017, GOES-15 (GOES-West) Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above) revealed that the fire showed little signs of diminishing during the nighttime hours, and in fact began to exhibit a trend of intensification around 05 UTC or 9 PM local time. However, toward the end of the day on 10 December, bands of  thick cirrus clouds moving over the fire region acted to dramatically attenuate the satellite-detected thermal signature of the fire complex. Although the Santa Ana winds were not as intense as they had been during the previous week, some strong wind gusts were still observed.

A sequence of 4 Shortwave Infrared images from Terra MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS (below) showed the westward and northwestward expansion of the fire during the 0637 to 2032 UTC period. The Thomas fire has now burned 230,000 acres, making it the fifth largest wildfire on record in California.

Terra MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared images, with corresponding surface reports plotted in cyan [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared images, with corresponding surface reports plotted in cyan [click to enlarge]

In a toggle between Terra MODIS true-color and false-color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images at 1846 UTC (below; source) the true-color image revealed a broad plume of thick smoke being transported westward and northwestward from the fire source region, while the false-color image showed the areal coverage of the burn scar (which appeared as reddish-brown hues beneath the clouds) as well as locations of the larger and more intense active fires (brighter pink to white) that were burning along the northern to western perimeter of the burn scar.

Terra MODIS true-color and false-color images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS true-color and false-color images [click to enlarge]

A comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 2032 UTC or 12:32 PM  local time (below) showed a well-defined thermal signature before the thicker cirrus clouds moved overhead from the south. A small cloud cluster (located just northwest of the fire thermal signature) exhibited a minimum infrared brightness temperature of -43ºC — if this cloud feature was indeed generated by the fire complex, it meets the -40ºC criteria of a pyrocumulonimbus cloud.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images, with surface reports plotted in cyan [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images, with surface reports plotted in cyan [click to enlarge]

The fire was producing very thick smoke, in addition to deep pyrocumulus clouds (top photo taken around 1945 UTC or 11:45 AM local time):

 

 

 

===== 11 December Update =====
 

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm), Near-Infrared (1.61 and 2.25 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.75 and 4.05 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm), Near-Infrared (1.61 and 2.25 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.75 and 4.05 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]

A toggle between Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm), Near-Infrared (1.61 and 2.25 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.75 and 4.05 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 1035 UTC or 2:35 AM local time (above; courtesy of William Straka, CIMSS) demonstrated how different spectral bands can be used to detect nighttime fire signatures. The maximum infrared brightness temperature on the 4.05 µm image was 389 K (115.9ºC or 240.5ºF). Note that the recently-launched JPSS-1/NOAA-20 satellite also carries a VIIRS instrument.

GOES-15 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (below) showed that once the thicker bands of cirrus clouds moved northwestward away from the region, a more well-defined thermal signature became apparent.

GOES-15 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with hourly surface reports plotted in yellow [click to play animation]

GOES-15 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with hourly surface reports plotted in yellow [click to play animation]

A 7-day sequence Nighttime and Daytime composites of Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) images (source: RealEarth) is shown below — it illustrates the spread of the Thomas Fire from 05 December to 11 December. Hot infrared pixels are black, with saturated pixels appearing bright white.

7-day sequence Nighttime and Daytime composites of Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) images [click to play animation]

7-day sequence Nighttime and Daytime composites of Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) images [click to play animation]

Snowfall in southern Texas

GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm, left) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, right) images, with hourly plots of surface reports [click to play animation]

GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm, left) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, right) images, with hourly plots of surface reports [click to play animation]

The combination of lift from an upper-level trough and cold air behind the passage of a surface cold front  set the stage for accumulating snow across far southern Texas on 08 December 2017. As the clouds cleared, GOES-13 (GOES-East) Visible (0.63 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above) revealed a narrow swath of snow cover running northeastward from the Rio Grande River toward Corpus Christi — the highest snowfall total associated with this feature was 7.0 inches near Corpus Christi. Daily snowfall records included 0.3 inch at Brownsville and 1.0 inch at Corpus Christi.

A toggle between Terra MODIS true-color and false-color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images from RealEarth (below) showed the southwestern portion of this band of snow cover (which appeared as darker shades of cyan in the false-color image).

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color and false-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color and false-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Farther to the north, another southwest-to-northeast oriented band of snow cover was seen on Terra MODIS true-color and false-color RGB images (below), stretching from San Antonio to Austin to College Station. The highest snowfall total there was 5.0 inches (NWS Austin/San Antonio summary),

Terra MODIS true-color and false-color images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS true-color and false-color images [click to enlarge]

Supermoon VIIRS Day/Night Band imagery

Composite of Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band swaths [click to enlarge]

Composite of Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band swaths [click to enlarge]

The only Supermoon of 2017 occurred on 03 December — and a composite of Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) swaths viewed using RealEarth (above) demonstrated the “visible image at night” capability of that spectral band. A VIIRS instrument is also part of the payload on recently-launched JPSS-1/NOAA-20.

A few examples providing closer looks using VIIRS Day/Night Band (DNB) imagery are shown below, beginning with the western portion of an Atlantic storm that had been producing Gale Force winds during the previous 6-12 hours.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) image centered over the western Atlantic [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) image centered over the western Atlantic [click to enlarge]

A toggle between Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Fog/stratus Infrared Brightness Temperature Difference (11.45 µm – 3.74 µm) images, centered over the Southeast US (below) showed widespread areas of fog and/or stratus The brighter fog/stratus features were generally brighter on the DNB image..

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Fog/stratus Infrared Brightness Temperature Difference (11.45 µm - 3.74 µm) images, centered over the Southeast US [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Fog/stratus Infrared Brightness Temperature Difference (11.45 µm – 3.74 µm) images, centered over the Southeast US [click to enlarge]

Another toggle between DNB and Fog/stratus Infrared Brightness Temperature Difference images, this time centered over Minnesota, Wisconsin and the UP of Michigan (below) revealed snow cover that was much below average for the date — especially across the UP of Michigan.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Fog/stratus Infrared Brightness Temperature Difference (11.45 µm - 3.74 µm) images, centered over Minnesota and the UP of Michigan [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Fog/stratus Infrared Brightness Temperature Difference (11.45 µm – 3.74 µm) images, centered over Minnesota, Wisconsin and the UP of Michigan [click to enlarge]

Finally, a toggle between DNB images from consecutive overpass times (0935 and 1116 UTC), showing small clusters of rain showers moving inland along the coast of Oregon and far northern California (below). Because of the wide scan swath of the VIIRS instrument (2330 km), there are times when the same area will be imaged during 2 consecutive overpasses.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band images, centered off the coast of Oregon [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band images, centered off the coast of Oregon [click to enlarge]

Cyclone Numa in the Mediterranean Sea

Terra MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

A toggle between Terra MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images, viewed using RealEarth (above), revealed the well-defined eye structure of Cyclone Numa over the Ionian Sea (between Italy and Greece) on 18 November 2017. Tracing its origin back to the remnants of Tropical Storm Rina (track), Cyclone Numa had acquired subtropical characteristics, making it a relatively rare Medicane.

EUMETSAT Meteosat-10 High Resolution Visible (0.8 µm) images (below) showed the evolution of the storm on 18 November. Plots of hourly surface reports (in metric units) are plotted on the images.

Meteosat-10 Visible (0.8 µm) images, with plots of hourly surface reports [click to play MP4 animation]

Meteosat-10 Visible (0.8 µm) images, with plots of hourly surface reports [click to play MP4 animation]

Meteosat-10 Infrared Window (10.8 µm) images (below) showed cloud-top infrared brightness temperatures around -60ºC (darker red enhancement) associated with some of the convective bursts during the 18-19 November period, as the system eventually moved inland across Greece.

Meteosat-10 Infrared Window (10.8 µm) images, with plots of hourly surface reports [click to play MP4 animation]

Meteosat-10 Infrared Window (10.8 µm) images, with plots of hourly surface reports [click to play MP4 animation]


Wildfires in Northern California

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with county outlines plotted in gray (dashed) and surface station identifiers plotted in white [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with county outlines plotted in gray (dashed) and surface station identifiers plotted in white [click to play MP4 animation]

* GOES-16 data posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational and are undergoing testing *

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above) showed the “hot spot” signatures (black to yellow to red pixels) associated with numerous wildfires that began to burn in Northern California’s Napa County around 0442 UTC on 09 October 2017 (9:42 PM local time on 08 October). A strong easterly to northeasterly Diablo wind (gusts) along with dry fuels led to extreme fire behavior, with many of the fires quickly exhibiting very hot infrared brightness temperature values and growing in size at an explosive rate (reportedly burning 80,000 acres in 18 hours).

A comparison of nighttime GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) and Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) images (below) offered another example of nocturnal fire signature identification — the bright glow of the fires showed up well on the 1-km resolution 1.61 µm imagery. Especially noteworthy was the very rapid southwestward run of the Tubbs Fire, which eventually moved just south of station identifier KSTS (Santa Rosa Sonoma County Airport; the city of Santa Rosa is located about 5 miles southeast of the airport. These Northern California fires have resulted in numerous fatalities, destroyed at least 3500 homes and businesses, and forced large-scale evacuations (media story).

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, left) and Near-Infrared

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, left) and Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm, right) images [click to play MP4 animation]

A toggle between 1007 UTC (3:07 AM local time) Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images (below) provided a view of the fires at an even higher spatial resolution. Since the Moon was in the Waning Gibbous phase (at 82% of Full), it provided ample illumination to highlight the dense smoke plumes drifting west-southwestward over the adjacent offshore waters of the Pacific Ocean.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images [click to enlarge]

A closer VIIRS image comparison (with county outlines) is shown below.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images [click to enlarge]

A comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color and false-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images from RealEarth (below) helped to discriminate between smoke and cloud features offshore over the Pacific Ocean.

Suomi NPP VIIRS True-color and False-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS True-color and False-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

===== 10 October Update =====
Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color and false-color images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color and false-color images [click to enlarge]

With the switch to southwesterly surface winds on 10 October, smoke plumes could be seen moving northeastward on RealEarth VIIRS true-color imagery, while the burn scars of a number of the larger fires became apparent on VIIRS false-color RGB imagery (above).

===== 11 October Update =====

Landsat-8 false-color RGB images, from 04 October (before the Tubbs Fire) and 11 October (after the Tubbs Fire) [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 false-color RGB images, from 04 October (before the Tubbs Fire) and 11 October (after the Tubbs Fire) [click to enlarge]

A toggle (above)  between 30-meter resolution Landsat-8 false-color RGB images from 04 October (before the Tubbs Fire) and 11 October (after the Tubbs Fire) showed the size of the fire burn scar (shades of brown) which extended southwestward from the fire source region into Santa Rosa.

===== 12 October Update =====
Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB images, with VIIRS-detected fire locations [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB images, with VIIRS-detected fire locations [click to enlarge]

A transition back to northerly winds on 12 October helped to transport the wildfire smoke far southward over the Pacific Ocean (above). Smoke was reducing surface visibility and adversely affecting air quality at locations such as San Francisco (below).

Time series plot of surface observations at San Francisco International Airport [click to enlarge]

Time series plot of surface observations at San Francisco International Airport [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Aerosol Optical Depth values were very high — at or near 1.0 — within portions of the dense smoke plume (below).

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB image and Aerosol Optical Depth product [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB image and Aerosol Optical Depth product [click to enlarge]

Increase in Gulf of Mexico water turbidity in the wake of Hurricane Irma

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB images on 07 September and 11 September [click to enlarge]ep

A comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images on 07 September (before Irma) and 11 September (after Irma) revealed a marked increase in turbidity of the shallow Continental Shelf waters off the coast of southern/southwestern Florida and the Florida Keys. Irma moved through that region on 10 September as a Category 3 hurricane — and even though the center of Irma moved northward off/along the west coast of Florida (with a wind gust to 75 mph at Key West) , the strongest winds were recorded along/near the east coast of Florida: wind gusts to 92 mph and 109 mph and 142 mph — stirring up particulates within the shallow Continental Shelf waters.

* GOES-16 data posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational and are undergoing testing *

Large-scale (CONUS) VIIRS true-color before-Irma and after-Irma images are available here and here. Note that the cloud shield of Irma had expanded as far westward as Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma on 12 September ( GOES-16 true-color images) — in addition to large areas of dense smoke from wildfires in the Pacific Northwest (blog post) which was drifting eastward across the northern US.

Increase in Turbidity near the Texas Gulf Coast following Hurricane Harvey

Terra MODIS True-Color imagery off the Texas Gulf Coast on 23 and 30 August, 2017 (Click to enlarge)

MODIS Today imagery from 23 August (pre-Harvey) (cropped) and 30 August (post-Harvey) (cropped), above, show an enormous increase in turbidity in the nearshore waters off the coast of Texas. Further, many of the rivers change their appearance to brown and flooding in the post-Harvey image. (River gauges in flood stage; Source)

A similar toggle using Suomi NPP VIIRS Imagery, from this site, also from 23 August and 30 August, is shown below. The increase in turbidity was due to a combination of strong winds and runoff from very heavy rainfall associated with the hurricane.

Suomi NPP True-Color imagery off the Texas Gulf Coast on 23 and 30 August, 2017 (Click to enlarge)

Suomi NPP VIIRS Products include a River Flood estimate, developed by Sanmei Li and others at George Mason University. The toggle below from RealEarth shows Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color at 1904 UTC, and the River Flood Product for the same time.

Suomi NPP VIIRS True-Color imagery off the Texas Gulf Coast, 1904 UTC on 30 August, 2017, and the Suomi NPP River Flood Product at the same time (Click to enlarge)

(Thanks to Bill Taylor and John Stoppkotte, NWS in N. Platte NE, for noting this!)

Canadian wildfire smoke over Quebec, Maine and the Canadian Maritimes

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm, top) and Cirrus (1.37 µm, bottom) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm, top) and Cirrus (1.37 µm, bottom) images [click to play MP4 animation]

* GOES-16 data posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational and are undergoing testing *

Filaments of smoke aloft from Canadian wildfires were evident in GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Cirrus (1.37 µm) imagery (above; also available as a 24 Mbyte animated GIF) on 17 August 2017, drifting cyclonically eastward over Quebec, Maine and the Canadian Maritimes. The appearance of the smoke signature on Cirrus images was due to the fact that this spectral band is useful for detecting features composed of particles that are efficient scatterers of light (such as cirrus cloud ice crystals, airborne dust or volcanic ash, and in this case, smoke).

A comparison of GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) and Cirrus (1.37 µm) images (below; also available as a 21 Mbyte animated GIF) demonstrated that no smoke signature was seen on the infrared images (since smoke is effectively transparent at infrared wavelengths).

GOES-16 Infrared Window (10.3 µm, top) and Cirrus (1.37 µm, bottom) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Infrared Window (10.3 µm, top) and Cirrus (1.37 µm, bottom) images [click to play MP4 animation]

A more upstream view of the smoke feature was provided by a comparison of  Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Cirrus (1.375 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images at 1626 UTC (below). Again, note the lack of a smoke signature in the Infrared image.

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Cirrus (1.375 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Cirrus (1.375 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Depending on the altitude of these smoke filament features, daily composites of  Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color images covering the 5-day period of 12 August17 August (below) suggest that their source was either widespread fires in the Northwest Territories, or intense fires in British Columbia (which included pyroCb that injected smoke to very high altitudes).

Suomi NPP VIIRS daily true-color images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS daily true-color images [click to enlarge]

Pyrocumulonimbus clouds in British Columbia, Canada

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with hourly surface reports plotted in yellow [click to play animation]

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm, top) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, bottom) images, with hourly surface reports plotted in yellow [click to play animation]

* GOES-16 data posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational and are undergoing testing*

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above) along with “Red” Visible and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images (below) showed the formation of 3 pyrocumulonimbus( pyroCb) clouds late in the evening on 12 August 2017, within the cluster of ongoing intense wildfires in British Columbia, Canada.

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm) and Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images, with hourly surface reports plotted in yellow [click to play animation]

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm, top) and Infrared Window (10.3 µm, bottom) images, with hourly surface reports plotted in yellow [click to play animation]

A toggle between NOAA-18 AVHRR Visible (0.63 µm), Near-Infrared (0.86 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) and Longwave Infrared Window (10.8 µm) images is shown below. The coldest cloud-top IR brightness temperature was -70º C (associated with the northernmost pyroCb).

NOAA-18 Visible (0.63 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) and Longwave Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images, with surface station plots in yellow [click to enlarge]

NOAA-18 Visible (0.63 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) and Longwave Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images, with surface station plots in yellow [click to enlarge]

In a daytime Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image (from RealEarth) with VIIRS-detected fire locations plotted in red (below), a very large pall of exceptionally-dense smoke from the BC fires could be seen drifting northward as far as the Northwest Territories of Canada.

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color image, with VIIRS-detected fire locations plotted in red [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color image, with VIIRS-detected fire locations plotted in red [click to enlarge]

The Suomi NPP OMPS Aerosol Index (AI) product (below; courtesy of Colin Seftor, SSAI) displayed AI values as high as 17.18 within the thick BC fire smoke pall.

Suomi NPP OMPS Aerosol Index [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP OMPS Aerosol Index [click to enlarge]

===== 13 August Update =====

Suomi NPP OMPS Aerosol Index product [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP OMPS Aerosol Index product [click to enlarge]

On 13 August, a maximum OMPS AI value of 39.91 was seen at around 21:13 UTC over the Northwest Territories of Canada (above) — according to Colin Seftor and Mike Fromm (NRL), this value surpassed the highest pyroCb-related AI value ever measured by TOMS or OMI (whose period of record began in 1979).

The north-northeastward transport of BC fire smoke — as well as a prominent increase in smoke from fires across northern Canada and the Prairies — was evident in an animation of daily composites of Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color images from 07-13 August (below).

Daily Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color image composites (07-13 August), with VIIRS-detected fire locations plotted in red [click to play animation]

Daily Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color image composites (07-13 August), with VIIRS-detected fire locations plotted in red [click to play animation]

Wildfire burning in Greenland

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to play animation]

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to play animation]

* GOES-16 data posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational and are undergoing testing *

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above; a zoomed-in version is available here) displayed a subtle hazy signature of a smoke plume along with an intermittent “hot spot” (darker black pixels) associated with  a small fire — located near the center of the cyan circle — that was burning close to the southwest coast of Greenland on 01 August 2017. The approximate latitude/longitude coordinates of the fire were 67.87º N / 51.48º W, a location about halfway between Ilulissat (station identifier BGJN) and Kangerlussuaq (station identifier BGSF) and about halfway between the western edge of the Greenland Ice Sheet and the west coast .

Closer views using daily composites of 250-meter resolution Terra and Aqua MODIS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images (from 30 July to 04 August), sourced from RealEarth (below) indicated that the fire may have started close to 1540 UTC on 31 July — when a small white smoke and/or cloud feature (just north of the cursor) was seen at the fire source location on the Terra image (overpass time). The Aqua overpass time was around 1600 UTC.

Daily composites of Terra MODIS true-color RGB images, from 30 July to 04 August [click to enlarge]

Daily composites of Terra MODIS true-color RGB images, from 30 July to 04 August [click to enlarge]

Daily composites of Aqua MODIS true-color RGB images, from 30 July to 04 August [click to enlarge]

Daily composites of Aqua MODIS true-color RGB images, from 30 July to 04 August [click to enlarge]

Similar daily composite RGB images from Suomi NPP VIIRS (31 July to 04 August) are shown below. Note that the initial fire signature was not seen on the 31 May VIIRS image, due to the earlier overpass time  (1513 UTC) of the Suomi NPP satellite.

Daily composites Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB images,.from 31 July to 04 August [click to enlarge]

Daily composites of Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB images,.from 31 July to 04 August [click to enlarge]

On 03 August, a 1507 UTC overpass of the Landsat-8 satellite provided a 30-meter resolution Operational Land Imager (OLI) false-color RGB image of the fire (below). This was the same day that a pilot took photos of the fire, as reported on the Wildfire Today site.

Landsat-8 false-color RGB image [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 OLI false-color RGB image [click to enlarge]

A comparison of one “before” (27 July) and two “after” (03 and 05 August) Landsat-8 OLI false-color RGB images (below) showed differences in smoke plume transport as the wind direction changed.

Landsat-8 false-color images on 27 July, 03 August and 05 August [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 OLI false-color images on 27 July, 03 August and 05 August [click to enlarge]

It is possible that this “natural fire” is similar to the Smoking Hills type of spontaneous combustion that has been observed in the Canadian Arctic (thanks to Ray Hoff, retired UMBC Professor of Physics, for that tip).

Credit to Mark Ruminski (NOAA/NESDIS) for first bringing this interesting event to our attention.

===== 09 August Update =====

The animations of daily Terra and Aqua true-color RGB images (below) have been extended to 09 August and 08 August, respectively.

Daily composites of Terra MODIS true-color RGB images, from 30 July to 09 August [click to enlarge]

Daily composites of Terra MODIS true-color RGB images, from 30 July to 09 August [click to enlarge]

Daily composites of Aqua MODIS true-color RGB images, from 30 July to 08 August [click to enlarge]

Daily composites of Aqua MODIS true-color RGB images, from 30 July to 08 August [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB images from 04-09 August (below) include VIIRS-detected fire locations plotted in red. The 09 August image showed that smoke from the fire had drifted west-southwestward over the adjacent offshore waters of Davis Strait.

Daily composites of Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB images, from 04-09 August, with fire detection points plotted in red [click to enlarge]

Daily composites of Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB images, from 04-09 August, with fire detection points plotted in red [click to enlarge]

===== 12 August Update =====

Landsat-8 OLI false-color images on 03, 05 and 12 August [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 OLI false-color images on 03, 05 and 12 August [click to enlarge]

Another overpass of Landsat-8 on 12 August provided a glimpse of the fire burn scar, which appeared as a darker hue of reddish-brown. Note that the fire had burned eastward to the coast, during a day when stronger westerly winds prevailed.

Related sites:

NASA Earth Observatory

NPR

ESA Space in Images

AGU EOS