Category Archives: Terra

Eruption of Mount Sinabung volcano

Himawari-8 RGB images [click to play animation]

Himawari-8 RGB images [click to play animation]

An explosive eruption of Mount Sinabung began at 0153 UTC on 19 February 2018. Himawari-8 False-color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images from the NOAA/CIMSS Volcanic Cloud Monitoring site (above) showed the primary plume of high-altitude ash moving northwestward, with ash at lower altitudes spreading out to the south and southeast of the volcano.

Mutli-spectral retrievals of Ash Cloud Height (below) indicated that the explosive eruption injected volcanic ash to altitudes generally within the 12-18 km range, possibly reaching heights of 18-20 km. Advisories issued by the Darwin VAAC listed the ash height at 45,000 feet (13.7 km).

Himawari-8 Ash Height product [click to play animation]

Himawari-8 Ash Height product [click to play animation]

Ash Loading values (below) were also very high within the high-altitude portion of the plume.

Himawari-8 Ash Loading product [click to play animation]

Himawari-8 Ash Loading product [click to play animation]

The Ash Effective Radius product (below) indicated that very large particles were present within the plume immediately downwind of the eruption site.

Himawari-8 Ash Effective Radius product [click to play animation]

Himawari-8 Ash Effective Radius product [click to play animation]

In a comparison of Himawari-8 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.4 µm) images (below), note the very pronounced warm thermal anomaly or “hot spot” (large cluster of red pixels) on the 0150 UTC image — Himawari-8 was actually scanning that location at 01:54:31 UTC, just after the 0153 UTC eruption. Prior to the main eruption, beginning at 0120 UTC a very narrow volcanic cloud — likely composed primarily of condensed steam — was seen streaming rapidly southward from the volcano summit.

Himawari-8

Himawari-8 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, left), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, center) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.4 µm, right) images [click to play Animated GIF | MP4 also available]

The coldest Himawari-8 cloud-top infrared brightness temperature was -73 ºC at 0300 UTC, which roughly corresponded to an altitude of 15 km on the nearby WIMM Medan rawinsonde data at 00 UTC (below).

Medan, Indonesia rawinsonde data at 00 UTC on 19 February [click to enlarge]

Medan, Indonesia rawinsonde data at 00 UTC on 19 February [click to enlarge]

A Terra MODIS True-color RGB image viewed using RealEarth is shown below. The time of the Terra satellite overpass was 0410 UTC.

Terra MODIS True-color RGB image [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS True-color RGB image [click to enlarge]

An animation of Himawari-8 True-color RGB images can be seen here.

Cyclone Kelvin makes landfall in Australia

Himawari-8 Visible (0.64 µm, left) and Infrared Window (10.4 µm, right) images, with hourly surface plots at Broome [click to play Animated GIF | MP4 also available]

Himawari-8 Visible (0.64 µm, left) and Infrared Window (10.4 µm, right) images, with hourly surface plots at Broome, Australia [click to play Animated GIF | MP4 also available]

Himawari-8 Visible (0.64 µm) and Infrared Window (10.4 µm) images (above) showed Cyclone Kelvin as it made landfall in Western Australia as a Category 1 storm on 18 February 2018. Kelvin continued to intensify shortly after making landfall, with estimated winds of 80 gusting to 100 knots — and a distinct eye feature could be seen in the Visible and Infrared imagery (as well as Broome radar data).

A longer animation of Himawari-8 Infrared Window (10.4 µm) images (below) revealed a very large convective burst as Kelvin meandered near the coast early on 17 February — periodic cloud-top infrared brightness temperatures of -90 ºC or colder were seen. After making landfall, the eye structure eventually deteriorated by 18 UTC on 18 February.

Himawari-8 Infrared Window (10.4 µm) images, with hourly surface plots [click to play MP4 | Animated GIF also available]

Himawari-8 Infrared Window (10.4 µm) images, with hourly surface plots [click to play MP4 | Animated GIF also available]

The MIMIC-TC product (below) showed the development of Kelvin’s compact eye during the 17 February – 18 February period; the eye was well-defined around the time of landfall (2147 UTC image on 17 February), and persisted for at least 18 hours (1556 UTC image on 18 February) until rapidly dissipating by 21 UTC.

MIMIC-TC morphed microwave imagery [click to enlarge]

MIMIC-TC morphed microwave imagery [click to enlarge]

Himawari-8 Deep Layer Wind Shear values remained very low — generally 5 knots or less — prior to, during and after the landfall of Kelvin, which also contributed to the slow rate of weakening. In addition, an upward moisture flux from the warm/wet sandy soil of that region helped Kelvin to intensify after landfall; land surface friction was also small, since that portion of Northwest Australia is rather flat.

Himawari-8 Water Vapor images, with Deep Layer Wind Shear product [click to enlarge]

Himawari-8 Water Vapor images, with Deep Layer Wind Shear product [click to enlarge]

The eye of Cyclone Kelvin could also be seen in Terra MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS True-color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images, viewed using RealEarth (below). The actual times of the Terra and Suomi NPP satellite overpasses were 0154 UTC and 0452 UTC on 18 February, respectively.

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]

Ice motion in the Great Lakes

GOES-16 "Red" Visible (0.64 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface wind barbs in cyan and wind gusts (kn0ts) in red (click to play Animated GIF)

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface wind barbs in cyan and wind gusts (knots) in red (click to play Animated GIF | MP4 also available)

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images showed ice motion in the western Great Lakes (above) and the central/eastern Great Lakes (below) on 14 February 2018. A flow of southwesterly winds at the surface was helping to move the lake ice toward the northeast. With increasing winds and a return of warmer air, the ice coverage of Lake Superior, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron had decreased slightly from their seasonal peaks a few days earlier — while the ice coverage for Lake Erie remained neared its seasonal peak. The total ice coverage for the Great Lakes as a whole was 57.9% on this day.

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface wind barbs in cyan and wind gusts (knots) in red (click to play Animated GIF | MP4 also available)

Closer views of southern Lake Michigan and southern Lake Huron are shown below. In Lake Huron, small ice floes can be seen breaking away from the land fast ice.

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface wind barbs in cyan and wind gusts (knots) in red (click to play Animated GIF | MP4 also available)

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface wind barbs in cyan and wind gusts (knots) in red (click to play Animated GIF | MP4 also available)

250-meter resolution Terra and Aqua MODIS True-color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images from the MODIS Today site (below) provided more detailed views of the ice floes in southern Lake Michigan, southern Lake Huron and western Lake Erie. The Aqua satellite overpass was about 90 minutes later than that of Terra.

Terra and Aqua MODIS True-color RGB images of southern Lake Michigan [click to enlarge]

Terra and Aqua MODIS True-color RGB images of southern Lake Michigan [click to enlarge]

Terra and Aqua MODIS True-color RGB images of southern Lake Huron [click to enlarge]

Terra and Aqua MODIS True-color RGB images of southern Lake Huron [click to enlarge]

Terra and Aqua MODIS True-color RGB images of western Lake Erie [click to enlarge]

Terra and Aqua MODIS True-color RGB images of western Lake Erie [click to enlarge]

Blowing dust in Texas and Oklahoma

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Moisture” Infrared brightness temperature difference (10.3-12.3 µm) images, with hourly surface reports plotted in cyan [click to play animation]

Strong winds in the wake of a cold frontal passage created large areas of blowing dust across the Panhandle Plains of northwestern Texas after 16 UTC on 21 January 2018. GOES-16 “Moisture” or “split-window difference” (10.3 µm12.3 µm) images (above) showed that the leading edge of this airborne dust moved over far southwestern Oklahoma after 20 UTC. (Note to AWIPS users: the default enhancement for this GOES-16 “Moisture” Channel Difference product was changed to “Grid/lowrange enhanced” to better highlight the dust with shades of yellow)

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.37 µm) images (below) also displayed blowing dust signatures; the surface visibility was restricted to 2-3 miles at some locations, with Big Spring briefly reporting only 1/4 mile from 20-21 UTC. The dust signature was apparent on the Cirrus imagery because this spectral band can be used to detect any airborne particles that are effective scatterers of light (such as cirrus ice crystals, volcanic ash, dust/sand or haze).

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images, with hourly reports of surface weather plotted in red and surface visibility (miles) plotted in red [click to play animation]

GOES-16 Near-Infrared

GOES-16 Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.37 µm) images, with hourly reports of surface weather plotted in red and surface visibility (miles) plotted in red [click to play animation]

A Cirrus band is also available with the MODIS instrument on the Terra and Aqua satellites (as well as the VIIRS instrument on Suomi NPP and NOAA-20) — a comparison of Visible (0.65 µm), Cirrus (1.37 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images from Terra and Aqua (below) highlighted the differing appearance of the blowing dust features as sensed by each of those spectral bands. The airborne dust exhibited a darker signature in the Shortwave Infrared images since the small dust particles were efficient reflectors of incoming solar radiation, thus appearing warmer at 3.7 µm.

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Cirrus (1.37 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images, with surface reports plotted in cyan [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Cirrus (1.37 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images, with surface reports plotted in cyan [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Cirrus (1.37 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images, with surface reports plotted in cyan [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Cirrus (1.37 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images, with surface reports plotted in cyan [click to enlarge]

Pilot reports within 20-45 minutes after the Terra overpass time (below) revealed Moderate to Severe turbulence at an elevation of 8000 feet, just southeast of the most dense dust plume feature (highlighted by the cooler, lighter gray infrared brightness temperatures) — this was likely due to strong wind shear in the vicinity of the rapidly-advancing cold front. Farther to the southwest, another pilot report indicated that the top of the blowing dust was at 7000 feet, with a flight-level visibility of 3 miles at 10,000 feet.

Terra MODIS Infrared Window (11.0 µm) image, with a pilot report of turbulence highlighted in red [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Infrared Window (11.0 µm) image, with a pilot report of turbulence highlighted in red [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Infrared Window (11.0 µm) image, with a pilot report of dust layer top and flight level visibility highlighted in red [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Infrared Window (11.0 µm) image, with a pilot report of dust layer top and flight level visibility highlighted in red [click to enlarge]

Ice dam in Lake Erie

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images, with hourly surface wind barbs plotted in yellow and wind gusts (knots) plotted in cyan [click to play animation]

Thanks to Dave Zaff (NWS Buffalo) for the email alerting us to an ice dam that had formed across the eastern portion of Lake Erie on 19 January 2018 — GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (above) showed that the northeastward drift of ice floes was effectively being blocked by this ice dam feature.

A toggle between 250-meter resolution Terra MODIS True-color and False-color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images from the MODIS Today site (below) provided a more detailed view of the Lake Erie ice dam and upwind drift ice at 1615 UTC. Snow and ice appear as shades of cyan in the False-color image, in contrast to supercooled water droplet clouds which are shades of white.

Terra MODIS True-color and False-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS True-color and False-color RGB images; red arrows denote the location of the ice dam [click to enlarge]

The Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) image with an overlay of RTMA surface winds (below) showed the southwesterly flow across the long axis of the lake.

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) image with surface METAR reports and RTMA surface winds [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) image with surface METAR reports and RTMA surface winds [click to enlarge]

A toggle between 1607 UTC Terra MODIS and 1757 UTC Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible images (below) showed the motion of the lake drift ice during that time period.

Terra MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible images, with METAR surface reports [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible images, with METAR surface reports [click to enlarge]

Severe turbulence over Hawai’i

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images, with hourly pilot reports of turbulence [click to play animation]

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images, with hourly pilot reports of turbulence [click to play animation]

Numerous pilot reports of moderate to severe turbulence were received over the Hawai’i area on 12 January 2018 — and GOES-15 (GOES-West) Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images (above; also available as an MP4) showed the development of a quasi-stationary gravity wave train over the northwestern portion of the island chain which appeared to be associated with many of these pilot reports.

HNL UA /OV 2115N16010W/TM 2241/FL320/TP B767/TB CONT MOD TURB

HNL UUA /OV 2115N16048W/TM 2255/FL340/TP H/B747/TB MOD-SEV TURB

HNL UUA /OV BOARD/TM 2350/FL370/TP H/B772/TB SEVERE TURB

PHNL UUA /OV 2443N 15516W /TM 2358 /FL370 /TP B737 /TB SEV 370 /RM ZOA CWSU AWC-WEB

In spite of the large satellite viewing angle, these waves were also very evident on Himawari-8 Lower-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images (below; also available as an MP4). The 3 Water Vapor bands on the Himawari AHI are nearly identical to the 3 Water Vapor bands on the GOES-R series ABI.

Himawari-8 Low-level (7.3 µm, left), Mid-level (6.9 µm, center) and 6.2 µm, right) Water Vapor images, with hourly pilot reports of turbulence [click to play animation]

Himawari-8 Low-level (7.3 µm, left), Mid-level (6.9 µm, center) and Upper-level (6.2 µm, right) Water Vapor images, with hourly pilot reports of turbulence [click to play animation]

A toggle between 1-km resolution Terra MODIS Water Vapor (6.7 µm), Infrared Window (11.0 µm) and 250-meter resolution true-color Red-Green-Blue RGB images at 2106 UTC on 12 January (below) showed that no high-altitude clouds were associated with the gravity wave features — thus, these aircraft encounters were examples of Clear Air Turbulence (CAT).

Terra MODIS Water Vapor (6.7 µm) and True-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Water Vapor (6.7 µm), Infrared Window (11.0 µm) and true-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

A color-enhanced version of the Aqua MODIS Water Vapor (6.7 µm) image at 0014 UTC on 13 January is shown below (courtesy of Jordan Gerth, CIMSS).

An AWIPS screen capture (below, courtesy of Robert Bohlin, NWS Honolulu and Jordan Gerth, CIMSS) displays a High Pass filter product along with the 3 individual Himawari-8 Water Vapor band images at 0120 UTC on 13 January.

Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm, upper right), Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm, lower left) and Lower-level Water Vapor (7.3 µm, lower right) images [click to enlarge]

Himawari-8 High Pass filter product (6.9 µm, upper left), Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm, upper right), Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm, lower left) and Lower-level Water Vapor (7.3 µm, lower right) images [click to enlarge]

It bears mention that the rawinsonde data from Lihue, Hawai’i at 0000 UTC on 13 January (below) indicated significant wind shear (both speed and directional) within the 200-300 hPa layer (text listing) — the layer in which many of the turbulence reports were found.

Rawinsonde data from Lihue, Hawai'i at 00 UTC on 13 January [click to enlarge]

Rawinsonde data from Lihue, Hawai’i at 00 UTC on 13 January [click to enlarge]

The packet of gravity waves was directly over Lihue (red asterisk) at that time (below).

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) image at 0000 UTC on 13 January, with pilot reports of turbulence plotted. The red asterisk denotes the location of Lihue [click to enlarge]

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) image at 0000 UTC on 13 January, with pilot reports of turbulence plotted. The red asterisk denotes the location of Lihue [click to enlarge]

Ice floes in Chesapeake Bay

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

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

In the wake of the explosive cyclogenesis off the East Coast of the US on 04 January 2018, very cold air began to spread across much of the eastern half of the Lower 48 states. Focusing on the Hampton Roads area of southeastern Virginia, satellite imagery began to show the formation of ice in the rivers and bays. On 06 January, a 30-meter resolution Landsat-8 false-color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) image viewed using RealEarth (above) revealed some of this ice — in particular, long narrow ice floes (snow and ice appear as shades of cyan) that likely emerged from the Back River (northeast of Hampton) and were drifting northward and southward just off the coast of the Virginia Peninsula.

On the following day (07 January), 250-meter resolution Terra MODIS true-color and false-color RGB images from the MODIS Today site (below) showed that a larger V-shaped ice floe was located just southeast of the Peninsula, with its vertex pointed toward the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel (HRBT). Snow and ice also appear as shades of cyan in the MODIS false-color image.

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

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

07 January also happened to be the last full day of imagery to be broadcast by the GOES-13 satellite — a comparison of 1-minute Mesoscale Sector GOES-16 (GOES-East) Visible (0.64 µm) and 15-30 minute interval GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images (below) showed that the V-shaped ice floe continued to drift southwestward toward the HRBT. However, it was difficult to tell whether the ice feature made it over and past the tunnel; even with the improved GOES-16 Visible spatial resolution (0.5 km at satellite sub-point, compared to 1.0 km for GOES-13) and the 1-minute rapid image scans, the ice floe became harder to track during the afternoon hours before high clouds began to overspread the region.

"GOES-16

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm, left) and GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm, right) images, with hourly surface air temperatures (ºF) plotted in yellow [click to play MP4 animation]

However, a close examination of Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color and false-color images at 1826 UTC (below) indicated that some of the ice had indeed moved westward past Fort Monroe (on the far southeastern tip of the Peninsula) and over/past the HRBT.

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]

On the topic of cold temperatures in southeastern Virginia, a new daily record low of -3 ºF was set at Richmond on the morning of 07 January, and at Norfolk new daily record low and record low maximum temperatures were set (10 ºF and 23 ºF, respectively).

Record-setting lake effect snow event at Erie, Pennsylvania

1-minute GOES-16 "Clean" Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images, with hourly surface reports plotted in cyan/yellow [click to play MP4 animation]

1-minute GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images, with hourly surface reports plotted in cyan/yellow [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images centered over Lake Erie (above) showed the evolution of lake effect snow bands on 25 December26 December 2017, which produced very heavy snowfall at locations such as Erie, Pennsylvania (station identifier KERI); a Mesoscale Sector provided images at 1-minute intervals. Some noteworthy snowfall records were set at Erie PA:

(27 December Update: additional lake effect snow at Erie on 27 December brought the final storm total accumulation to 65.1 inches: NWS Cleveland summary. NOHRSC plots showed a maximum snow depth of 49 inches just southwest of downtown Erie; the maximum snow depth at Erie International Airport was 28 inches on 26 December, which was still less than their all-time record snow depth of 39 inches on 21 December 1989)

A sequence of Infrared Window images captured by Terra/Aqua MODIS (11.0 µm) and Suomi NPP VIIRS (11.45 µm) is shown below. The coldest cloud-top infrared brightness temperatures associated with the dominant lake effect snow bands were in the -30 to -35 ºC range (dark blue to pale green color enhancement), similar to what was seen in the GOES-16 Infrared Window imagery.

Infrared Window images from Terra/Aqua MODIS (11.0 µm) and Suomi NPP VIIRS (11.45 µm), with surface reports plotted in yellow [click to enlarge]

Infrared Window images from Terra/Aqua MODIS (11.0 µm) and Suomi NPP VIIRS (11.45 µm), with surface reports plotted in yellow [click to enlarge]

Farther to the northeast, these Lake Erie lake effect bands also produced significant snowfall in far southwestern New York, with 32 inches reported at Perrysburg (located 20 miles west of Dunkirk, station identifier KDKK). In addition, lake effect snow bands over Lake Ontario were responsible for even higher snowfall amounts:


1-minute GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (below) showed the lake effect snow bands over Lake Ontario on 26 December.

1-minute GOES-16 "Red" Visible (0.64 µm) images, with hourly surface reports plotted in yellow [click to play MP4 animation]

1-minute GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images, with hourly surface reports plotted in yellow [click to play MP4 animation]

Aircraft hole punch and cloud dissipation features over Illinois, Indiana and Ohio

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

Terra MODIS True-color and False-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

A toggle between 250-meter resolution Terra MODIS True-color and False-color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images from the MODIS Today site (above) revealed numerous aircraft “hole punch” and dissipation trail or “distrail” features over Illinois, Indiana and Ohio on 21 December 2017.  These cloud features were caused by aircraft that were either ascending or descending through a layer of cloud composed of supercooled water droplets — cooling from wake turbulence (reference) and/or particles from the jet engine exhaust acting as ice condensation nuclei causes the small supercooled water droplets to turn into larger ice crystals (many of which then fall from the cloud layer, creating “fall streak holes“). The ice crystal clouds appear as darker shades of cyan on the false-color image.

GOES-16 "Red" Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared "Snow/Ice" (1.61 µm) images over Illinois/Indiana [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) images over Illinois/Indiana [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) images showed the hole punch and distrail features over Illinois/Indiana (above) and over Indiana/Ohio (below). The glaciated (ice crystal) hole punch and distrail clouds appeared dark gray on the Snow/Ice images (since ice is a strong absorber of radiation at the 1.61 µm wavelength).

GOES-16 "Red" Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared "Snow/Ice" (1.61 µm) images over Indiana/Ohio [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) images over Indiana/Ohio [click to play MP4 animation]

RealEarth is used to display Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm), Near-Infrared (1.61 µm), True-color and False-color RGB images at 1841 UTC (below). O ne the Shortwave Infrared images, the hole punch and distrail features are colder (brighter white) than the surrounding supercooled water droplet cloud deck — since water droplet are effective absorbers of incoming solar radiation, such clouds appear warmer (darker gray) in 3.9 µm images.

Suomi NPP VIIRS

Suomi NPP VIIRS “Red” Visible (0.64 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm), True-color and False-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Aircraft hole punch and distrail cloud features over southern Lake Michigan

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, top) and Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm. bottom) images, with surface station identifiers plotted in yellow [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) images (above) revealed a number of aircraft “hole punch clouds” and cloud dissipation or “distrail” features drifting eastward across southern Lake Michigan and adjacent states on 20 December 2017. These cloud features were caused by aircraft that were either ascending or descending through a layer of cloud composed of supercooled water droplets — cooling from wake turbulence (reference) and/or particles from the jet engine exhaust acting as ice condensation nuclei cause the small supercooled water droplets to turn into larger ice crystals (many of which then often fall from the cloud layer, creating “fall streak holes“). The darker gray appearance of the hole punch clouds on 1.61 µm images confirms that the features were composed of ice crystals (since ice is a strong absorber of radiation at that wavelength).

A good example of a hole punch cloud adjacent to a longer distrail feature was seen over far southeastern Minnesota and the Minnesota/Wisconsin border, using 250-meter resolution Aqua MODIS true-color and false-color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images from the MODIS Today site (below). Glaciated (ice crystal) cloud features appeared as darker shades of cyan in the false-color image.

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

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

A very detailed view of a hole punch cloud over Lake Michigan was provided by 30-meter resolution Landsat-8 false-color imagery at 1635 UTC, viewed using RealEarth (below).

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

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

===== 21 December Update =====

Another example of numerous aircraft hole punch and distrail cloud features was seen on Terra MODIS true-color and false-color RGB images on 21 December. over northern Illinois and northern Indiana (below).

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

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