DISCUSSION: As we continue to get deeper into the heart of the 2017-2018 Northern Hemispheric Winter season, we are continuing to see various atmospheric phenomena on finer spatial scales than has ever been observed in recorded history. This ability to visualize such fine-detail various global atmospheric phenomena is due to the relatively newer onset of the GOES-16 satellite imaging platform which was officially launched back in late November 2016. Needless to say that this was a dramatic turning point for the atmospheric science forecasting and research worlds alike through opening a new world into understanding the inner-workings of atmospheric flow regimes and dynamics therein.
One such example of a finer-scale atmospheric phenomenon which has effectively been revolutionized in terms of our ability to study it is the occurrence of Winter-time cloud streets. As circled in the upper-most image attached above, the brief animated infrared satellite imagery loop attached in the file above, and discussed in the brief video briefing also attached above, cloud streets are quite common during the Winter-time months. This is chiefly due to the fact that cloud streets form over open ocean basins just offshore from larger land-masses in the same manner that lake-effect clouds and lake-effect snow bands form off of relatively warmer lakes located all over the world. Hence, this is how countries such as Taiwan and Japan experience ocean-effect snowfall during the Winter-time months as well via the mechanics of ocean-effect snow which is predominantly driven by the occurrence of more intense cloud streets. To learn more about cloud streets, feel free to watch the brief video briefing attached above.
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© 2018 Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz
Being a weather observer presents an interesting opportunity to those studying Meteorology at Rutgers University. Many times, meteorologists are stuck behind a computer, looking at numbers, data, and previously-made observations. To physically record and experience a tangible observation in front of you, however, is something different. At Rutgers University, weather observers are given this opportunity.
Eight AM each morning is the starting time for the observers. When entering the gated area, observers will grab the observation sheet where everything is recorded (as can be seen below), and get to work. The first observation, temperature, is measured in three ways. The first way is by simply going online to the Rutgers Weather Center and reading the current, maximum, and minimum temperature, provided by the Campbell thermometer. The second method is to look at the electronic Maximum Minimum Temperature System (MMTS), nicknamed “Nimbus”, which keeps a record of the highest and lowest temperature since the last time the reset button was hit.
The third method of measuring temperature, which is perhaps the most archaic but most hands-on experience, is to check is the liquid thermometers. While these observations are likely not used for official temperatures (since an improper reset of the thermometers or even breathing on them could alter the temperature), they are always there as a backup in case a power outage ever hit Rutgers Gardens, and are always checked as well. Located in a Stevenson screen (pictured below, both open and closed) as to not be affected by the sun’s rays, observers will find both a maximum and minimum liquid thermometer in here. Beyond air temperature, observers make sure to log soil temperature at different depths (two inches, four inches, and eight inches), with different types of soil (bare or grassy).
Precipitation is the next observation made. A metal can at the western side of the enclosed area is used to catch any precipitation falling in the past twenty-four hours. When there is only rain, the job is easy. Liquid is transferred from the metal can into a National Weather Service (NWS) standard rain gauge and a ruler is used to measure the amount of liquid to the nearest hundredth of an inch. When there is snow, the process is a little different. Snow is first measured with a classic yardstick to get the depth of the snow that fell in the past twenty-four hours. Then, the snow is melted on an electric stove so that the liquid precipitation equivalent can be measured.
After precipitation, the observer must write down other observations such as sky cover, current weather, and ground condition. Evaporation is also measured in the summer by using a hook gauge, a very precise device that can measure the change in depth of water (in an evaporation pan) to the nearest thousandth of an inch. By measuring this daily change of water, observers can approximate how much water evaporated in the past twenty-four hours. See below for a run-down of the observations collected at Rutgers Gardens, courtesy of the Rutgers Weather Center!
After the entire process is completed, the observer uploads the information online. All records of Rutgers Gardens observations from students can be found here for the interested reader.
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Photo Credit to Forecaster Joseph DeLizio
©2018 Forecaster Joseph Fogarty
DISCUSSION: As we have enjoyed the spoils of the GOES-16 satellite over the course of the past year (which was formerly GOES-R prior to it's launch), the atmospheric science community has yet another satellite launch to get excited for. This particular point of excitement is the upcoming launch of the GOES-S (i.e., soon to be the GOES-17 satellite imager) which will further revolutionize the way in which the world studies the atmosphere. This just goes to show that irregardless of what different people are trying to achieve outside of science, the science world is clearly leaning towards the way of progress. To learn more about this upcoming satellite launch, watch the short video briefing attached above.
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©2017 Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz
DISCUSSION: In light of the recent October coastal storm which impacted a good portion of the coastal Northeastern United States, there were legitimate interests in further studying this coastal low pressure system. In that light, the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) opted to conduct a study on this coastal storm by way of integrating the Global Precipitation Mission (GPM) satellite imager to create 3-dimensional cross-sections within this storm. One of the most impressive parts of this analysis was being able to see how the vertical structure of this coastal low pressure system differed depending on the part of the storm being considered.
Attached in the link below is a more in-depth look at this study courtesy of NASA and can be accessed by clicking on the following link.
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©2017 Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz
JPSS-1 Set for Launch, Improving Forecasting by Advanced Polar Orbiting Satellite (Credit: NOAA/NESDIS)
DISCUSSION: Just a few days away and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is excited to announce its launch of the most advanced polar satellite, Joint Polar Satellite System-1(JPSS-1). The JPSS-1 is set for launch on November 10th at 1:47a.m. PST from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
JPSS-1 is the first in a series of “highly advanced polar-orbiting satellites,“ according to NOAA, which coupled with GOES-16 will vastly improve forecasts for meteorologists. JPSS-1 will provide valuable observations in, “atmospheric temperature and moisture, sea-surface temperature, ocean color, sea ice cover, volcanic ash and fire detection.”
JPSS is expected to be a large upgrade for NOAA. NOAA’s hopes are that this instrumentation coupled with other technology such as the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) or the Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS) will increase the understanding of atmospheric processes while continually improving forecasts.
For more information on new technology and instrumentation visit the Global Weather and Climate Center!
© 2017 Meteorologist Jessica Olsen
“30-Day countdown to JPSS-1 launch.” 30-Day countdown to JPSS-1 launch | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration , 11 Oct. 2017, www.noaa.gov/media-release/30-day-countdown-to-jpss-1-launch.
“JPSS-1 Spacecraft.” JPSS-1 Spacecraft | NOAA National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS), NOAA NESDIS, www.nesdis.noaa.gov/content/jpss-1-spacecraft.
DISCUSSION: As early as August 17th, Hurricane Hunters have investigated the beginning of what was Harvey amid shower and thunderstorm activity from a potential tropical wave seen on August 13th care of the National Hurricane Center.
Initial reconnaissance began with the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron based at Keesler Air Force Base. Air Force reconnaissance coupled with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters play an integral role in providing information to forecasters at the National Hurricane Center (NHC). Data collected during hurricanes via heavily equipped aircraft allow for improvement to forecasts, providing assistance in inner storm fluxes, tendencies and intensity.
The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron made over 10 flights into Harvey utilizing dropsondes to transmit data to the National Hurricane Center. The critical data that the NHC received was able to upgrade Harvey to a tropical depression by August 23rd, 1500 UTC, by August 24th 0600 UTC Harvey gained tropical storm status only several hours later to become hurricane by 1700 UTC.
NOAA in particular utilizes 2 types of aircraft to gather data in effort to increase understanding of a storms processes.
P-3 Orion: This particular aircraft has a flight path which typically includes directly into the storm. Armed with scientists and/or military personnel, those aboard can utilize dropsondes, to evaluate wind, temperature, pressure, and humidity within the storm. In addition to GPS which may be added to the dropsonde the P-3 is equipped with tail Doppler radar in conjunction with fuselage mounted radar, which allow scientist onboard to have real-time storm data. The addition of NOAAs Stepped Frequency Microwave Radiometers (SFMRs) have changed the way forecasters view storm surge due to their ability to measure “over-ocean wind speed and rain rates” within storms. Not forgetting the deployable bathythermographs onboard that are able to measure the ocean temperature, a good measure of energy needed for ample formation.
Gulfstream IV-SP (G-IV): The Gulfsteam’s ability to fly at such a high altitude of 45,000 ft allows it to investigate the upper atmosphere especially during developing systems. Not shy to dropsonde and tail Doppler radar, this aircraft can view the upper atmospheric currents that may aid in determining storm propagation.
For more information on aviation, hurricane hunters or weather visit the Global Weather and Climate Center!
© Meteorologist Jessica Olsen
“Aircraft Operations.” NOAA Hurricane Hunters | Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, 2 June 2017, www.omao.noaa.gov/learn/aircraft-operations/about/hurricane-hunters. Accessed 30 Aug. 2017.
“Air Force Hurricane Hunters Track Harvey.” U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, 25 Aug. 2017, www.defense.gov/News/Article/Article/1290882/air-force-hurricane-hunters-track-harvey/. Accessed 30 Aug. 2017.
DISCUSSION: As the world continued to watch former Major Hurricane Harvey gradually weaken since the earlier morning hours of Saturday, this did not mean in any way whatsoever that southern and southeastern Texas was "out of the woods yet." Even as Major Hurricane Harvey made landfall, within the first hour or so after its official landfall, it was quite stubborn to begin to weaken as there still continued to be an effective transfer of energy from the surface of the ocean near the immediate coastline of the far northwestern Gulf of Mexico. Therefore, for those people which chose to ride out the storm near the Corpus Christi metro area (and points to the north and northeast), this major hurricane continued to batter the immediate coastline and semi-inland areas within 20 to 30 miles of the point of land with prolonged sustained winds of 120 to 140 MPH before the storm finally began to lose steam as it slowly moved further inland.
In addition, besides the actual period of weakening which has now forced the system to be downgraded to Tropical Storm Harvey, there have been some very neat perspectives which have been captured by the GOES-16 satellite imager. One great example which is captured in both the image as well as the tweet attached above (courtesy of the NASA SPoRT Twitter account), is the combined 6-channel product which allows atmospheric scientists to clearly differentiate between newer, blossoming convection vs. older mature and/or soon-to-be dissipating convection. This differentiation can more easily and more effectively enable operational forecasters to make more timely and more accurate precipitation forecasts by being able to more quickly distinguish between newer and older convective cells with respect to what part of the typical convective life-cycle a particular convective cell is in (i.e., the cumulus or beginning stage, the mature stage, or the decaying stage).
As noted in the Tweet embedded above, the yellow-colored clouds indicate the presence of strong blossoming convection as opposed to the orange/red-colored cloud regions which indicate the presence of mature/dissipating convection. Thus, this product is revolutionary in terms of it being able to facilitate a smoother and more efficient recognition of different stages of convection within a larger system such as (but certainly not limited to) the currently weakening Tropical Storm Harvey. Just goes to show how a highly-advanced satellite imaging system can change the way we visualize and study the atmosphere and the world around us.
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©2017 Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz
DISCUSSION: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is making due progress on its continual development of the GOES satellites, on the cusp of its most recent launch in November 2016 of GOES-16. Part of the latest GOES-R series is the addition of GOES-S and GOES-T to the family.
The GOES-R series is one of the most advanced series of satellites designed to provide unmatched data to meteorologists. GOES-R will relay information that will aid in observations, forecasting and will assist in monitoring, “aerosols, dust storms, volcanic eruptions, forest fires, space weather, oceanography, climate monitoring, in-situ data collection and for search and rescue” according to NASA.
GOES-R boasts an impressive instrumentation package including, “Earth sensing, solar imaging, and space environment measurement payloads. There are six primary instruments: the Advanced Baseline Imager; the Extreme Ultraviolet and X-ray Irradiance Sensors, which includes an Extreme Ultraviolet Sensor, X-Ray Sensor, EUVS/XRS Electrical Box, and Sun Positioning Sensor; the Geostationary Lightning Mapper; the Magnetometer; the Space Environment In-Situ Suite, which includes an Energetic Heavy Ion Sensor, Magnetospheric Particle Sensor – Low Energy Range, Magnetospheric Particle Sensor – High Energy Range, Solar and Galactic Proton Sensor, and Data Processing Unit; and the Solar Ultraviolet Imager” as stated by NASA.
GOES-S is scheduled for launch in spring 2018 with an estimated launch for GOES-T in 2020. When launched GOES-S will be renamed at GOES-17, and GOES-18 for GOES-T.
For information on other GOES products stay tuned to the Global Weather and Climate Center for updates!
© Meteorologist Jessica Olsen
Jenner, Lynn. “GOES-R.” NASA, NASA, 4 Mar. 2015, www.nasa.gov/content/goes-r/index.html. Accessed 15 Aug. 2017.
“NOAA's GOES-S and GOES-T Satellites Coming Together.” NESDIS News & Articles, 3 Aug. 2017, www.nesdis.noaa.gov/content/noaa%E2%80%99s-goes-s-and-goes-t-satellites-coming-together. Accessed 15 Aug. 2017.
DISCUSSION: As of July 5th, the NASA Sport satellite division issued the Beta Release of the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) regional, national, and global data frameworks. Attached below is an exact statement release from NASA SPoRT:
"The Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) has completed a product validation review and has been cleared for distribution through the GOES-R Re-broadcast system. The GLM data are currently in a “beta-status”. This means that additional updates will occur with the data processing before GOES-R (now GOES-16) moves to the east position in November. However, this is a great opportunity to get an initial look at the GLM data in real-time. The two examples below show the first data to be received at 1454 UTC today (5 July 2017) over the eastern United States and for the GLM field of view. The data have been manually ingested into the National Weather Service’s Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS) display for demonstration purposes."
As shown in the image above, you can see how there are also different types of lightning strikes which are observed and identified by the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM). This reinforces the natural versatility of the GLM on-board technology in being able to further advance the capabilities of real-time lightning observations as well as lightning research.
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©2017 Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz
Recent New England Tornado Satellite-Based Insights (credit: Scott Bachmeier via UW-CIMSS Satellite Blog)
DISCUSSION: As meteorologists working at the National Weather Service office in Portland, Maine geared up to prepare and deliver their first forecasts for the month of July, they quickly had quite a heavy workload to contend with. More specifically, a warm/moist air mass approaching portions of the interior Northeast on the final day of June set the stage for a convective threat across many parts of the interior Northeastern United States. As various favorable convective parameters came into place during the overnight and early morning hours on 1 July, there was increasing confidence for strong/severe thunderstorms to erupt during the late morning to early afternoon hours back on 1 July.
As noted above and as it would ultimately verify, severe thunderstorms kept the National Weather Service busy over the weekend, especially the NWS office in Portland Maine where a record number of tornado warning were issued on July 1st. You can see the storms evolution in this animation of GOES-16 satellite imagery. In the dual visible/infrared GOES-R satellite imagery loop attached above (as non-operational and preliminary data only), there were only subtle indications based on infrared cloud-top temperatures that there were severe thunderstorms developing at the time which would be capable of generating tornadoes in the near future. Despite the couple of tornadoes which did end up touching down, there fortunately were no recorded fatalities as a consequence of these severe storms which impacted portions of northern New Hampshire and western Maine. To learn more about this recent severe weather event, click on the following link.
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©2017 Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz