Satellite Data in Support of DC3

by Frank Flocke (NCAR/ACD)

GOES Eastern US SECTOR IR Image

A variety of satellite observations are used for DC3 science. Primarily, weather observations from the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) are used for both forecasting and aircraft guidance once a mission is launched. Visual and infrared imagery are used to identify cloud extent and provide crucial information the altitude of the cloud tops and anvil shape. Together with the ground radar observations this is used for guidance of the aircraft to target storms (flight altitudes and horizontal distance to convection). Satellite imagery is also used for real-time observation of surrounding convection so the aircraft can safely navigate in the operations area.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) from IASI from May 26, 2012. The huge New Mexico (Whitewater-Baldy) fire is obvious, with the smoke plume being carried eastward. Elevated CO from the wildfires in western Mexico is also evident. Blank areas indicate where cloud coverage is too think to allow retrievals of CO. The IASI retrievals and images are being produced at NCAR by Helen Worden, Gene Francis and Debbie Mao.

A second type of satellite observations are chemical tracer measurements available from space. Tracer products like tropospheric CO (from the Measurements of Pollution in the Troposphere [MOPITT] and Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer [IASI] instruments) are mainly used for forecasting the large-scale chemical environment in which a flight is taking place. These observations can be ingested into models to help more precise forecasting of large-scale pollution plumes affecting an area of interest. Satellite observations can also be used to identify outflow from large urban areas or larger wildfires. NOx observations from space are made by the Ozone Monitoring Instument (OMI) and Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment-2 (GOME-2) instruments. These can also be used to identify outflow from large urban areas but also to identify NOx produced from lightning (see blog on chemical measurements from aircraft) and its transport in the upper troposphere.

For downwind flights, tropospheric NO2 column data from GOME2 is used to adjust flight plans based on the estimated location of NO2 sampled by the aircraft from the previous day’s convective outflow. The dashed red oval indicates the area of enhanced NO2 targeted for a downwind research flight on 26 May 2012.

NO2 observations from space are made by the OMI and GOME2 instruments. These can also be used to identify outflow from large urban areas but also to identify NO2 produced from lightning (see blog on chemical measurements from aircraft) and its transport in the upper troposphere. The GOME-2 overpass (on the European MetOp-A satellite) is at about 9:30 AM local standard time. Therefore, DC3 can utilize these data to determine the location and magnitude of lightning NOx produced during the afternoon and evening prior to the observation. This information can be used to guide the aircraft to observe the storm outflow after a day of photochemical aging. The OMI instrument on NASA’s Aura satellite makes an overpass at about 1:30 PM. These data become available by late afternoon and can be used to make adjustments to the downwind aircraft flights. OMI tropospheric column NO2, as well as a specialized lightning NO2 (LNO2) product are produced. The LNO2 product is generated by subtracting an estimate of the anthropogenic pollution component from the total tropospheric column NO2amount.

The contribution of lightning NO2 based on tropospheric column NO2 data from OMI on 23 May 2012. Trajectory analysis of the OMI LNO2 products indicate that some of the enhanced NO2 features are related to wildfires and agricultural burning.

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