This issue of In the News covers SSEC news and events from August 2005 and previously uncovered pieces. Use images freely with credit to the Space Science and Engineering Center, University of WisconsinMadison. Terri Gregory and Jennifer O'Leary produced this issue.
Investigating Catarina—The summer 2005 issue of UCAR Quarterly used SSEC satellite data to create an illustration to accompany an article about the peculiarities of meteorological phenomenon Catarina. The illustration specifically draws attention to the light mid-level winds that blew counterclockwise around the storm. The article explains certain characteristics of Catarina that make it difficult to categorize.
On display—Produced by SSEC’s Data Center, the SSEC global montage now appears as one of many elements on an information kiosk in the new visitor’s center at the NOAA/NESDIS Fairbanks Command and Data Acquisition Station.
Signature imagery spotted—In late August, the Hurricane Hollow Tropical Weather Web Site’s home page featured an SSEC sea surface temperature image for Hurricane Katrina. The site did not credit SSEC.
Achievements with MODIS —The May-June 2005 edition of The Earth Observer included an overview of the MODIS Science Team Meeting held March 22-24. Paul Menzel (NOAA at SSEC) discussed the use of MODIS data to create climate-quality data sets. Such data sets present a challenge to create because they require spectral consistency, accurate radiative transfers, constant orbit, consistency with the Global Observing System, and reprocessing opportunities. At the meeting, MODIS Atmospheres Team Leader Michael King gave a presentation in which many SSEC projects and achievements received mention. King discussed the international success of the MODIS Direct Broadcast and the work at SSEC to create software that will include more information in the Direct Broadcast. He also talked about the Infusing satellite Data into Environmental air quality Applications (IDEA) project, which uses MODIS data and the EPA’s PM2.5 (particulate matter 2.5) data to monitor air quality in the U.S. SSEC plays a crucial role in the IDEA project. In his presentation, King also mentioned the MODIS Polar Winds product. He pointed out that many international groups use this product, including: groups in Japan and Canada, the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), the Global Modeling and Assimilation Office (GMAO), and the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). Jeff Key (NOAA at SSEC), Chris Velden (CIMSS), and Dave Santek (CIMSS) developed the Polar Winds product.
Conferring about calibration—Many members of the SSEC community participated in the 2005 CALCON Technical Conference, which ran from August 22-25. Hosted by Utah State University, this conference focused on “Characterization and Radiometric Calibration for Remote Sensing.” In a pre-conference workshop addressing the calibration of systems on aircraft, Hank Revercomb (SSEC) and Fred Best (SSEC) gave a presentation about the calibration of the Scanning-HIS. Revercomb provided an overview and Best discussed blackbody reference standards. As the actual conference began, Paul Menzel (NOAA at SSEC) spoke about “Cross Calibration of Satellites in Orbit” as an invited speaker in the opening session addressing different aspects of the Global Satellite Observing System. During the first part of the first section, “The Calibration of Operational Environmental Satellite Sensors,” Andrew Heidinger (NOAA at SSEC) participated in a presentation that dealt with the long-term characterization of AVHRR. In the third part of that section, Bob Knuteson (SSEC), Dave Tobin (SSEC), and Chris Moeller (CIMSS) spoke about “Surface-based and Aircraft-based Radiometric Measurements at Lake Tahoe to Assess Terra MODIS TEB Accuracy.” As an aspect of another section of the conference, a large group from SSEC addressed the “Calibration of the Geostationary Imaging Fourier Transform Spectrometer (GIFTS) On-board Blackbody Calibration System.” This group consisted of: Best, Revercomb, Knuteson, Tobin, Don Theilman (SSEC), Scott Ellington (SSEC), Mark Werner (SSEC), Doug Adler (SSEC), Ray Garcia (CIMSS), Joe Taylor (SSEC), Steve Dutcher (CIMSS), and Mark Mulligan (SSEC). Later in the conference, Moeller participated in a presentation about the “Characterization and Correction for Terra MODIS SWIR Bands Crosstalk.” During another portion of the conference, “Pre-Launch to On-Orbit Calibration and Characterization – AIRS, a case study,” Tobin, Revercomb, Best, Knuteson and Moeller spoke about “On-orbit Radiometric and Spectral Evaluation of AIRS with the Aircraft Based S-HIS and comparisons with MODIS.” SSEC employees also contributed several posters displayed throughout the conference.
Annual review—Tom Achtor (CIMSS), Jun Li (CIMSS), and Jeff Key (NOAA with SSEC) attended the annual review of the GOES Improved Measurements and Products Assurance Plan (GIMPAP) held on August 23. Achtor and Li presented CIMSS’s recent results and planned activities. Key participated as a member of the Technical Advisory Committee.
Brightest cloud feature—Lawrence Sromovsky (SSEC) and Patrick Fry (SSEC) recently discovered the brightest cloud feature ever observed on Uranus. It was detected in images obtained with NIRC2 instrument and adaptive optics at the Keck II telescope on August 14 and 15, but is large enough and bright enough to be observed without adaptive optics.
Tornado outbreak— While most individuals with an iota of sense heeded the barrage of warnings and headed for safety before the tornado outbreak on August 18, some of Space Science and Engineering Center’s self-proclaimed “weather weenies” did the opposite. As threatening clouds formed over SSEC’s home in the Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences building on the UW-Madison campus, a handful of intrepid weather lovers grabbed cameras and cell phones before hopping in their cars for a little amateur storm chasing.
Alex Harrington, an undergraduate working for CIMSS, was one of those who ignored the warnings. “I arrived at home off of Regent St. to the sirens going off,” Harrington said. “There was no doubt about it, I decided that I was going to chase [the storms].” Courtesy of Bill Bellon (SSEC), Jason Brunner (CIMSS), and Wayne Feltz (CIMSS), anyone can relive the experience through an interactive case study of the remarkable Southwestern Wisconsin weather event, which includes first-hand pictures and harrowing personal accounts from the SSEC-employees-turned-storm-chasers (and others).
Created as a learning tool for workshops hosted by the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies, the Web page also features animations derived from GOES satellite data that show clouds forming over Southwestern Wisconsin and then moving on across the state. Using data from an instrument called the MODerate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and NASA’s Aqua satellite, Kathy Strabala (CIMSS)and Scott Bachmeier (CIMSS) created satellite images of the path of the tornado that tore through Stoughton. Additionally, the page includes a map of the tornado tracks, news articles about the tornados, radar images, and a plot created by Russ Dengel (SSEC) of the tornado warnings issued on August 18.
Contributing to a textbook —Andrew Heidinger (NESDIS at SSEC) co-authored a chapter in a new textbook titled “3D Radiative Transfer in Cloudy Atmospheres,” edited by Alexander Marshak (NASA) and Anthony Davis (Los Alamos National Lab). The chapter discusses different observation strategies used to assess the effects of 3D cloud geometry on radiative transfer. It mainly focuses on the use of hyperspectral measurements within shortwave absorption bands.
Credit where credit is due—Recently NOAA and NASA announced a breakthrough that will improve the accuracy of medium-range forecasts in the Northern Hemisphere. By incorporating data from NASA’s Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) into NOAA’s Global Forecast System, NOAA anticipates a 12 to 15 percent decrease in errors in 24- to 36-hour forecasts and an approximately 20 percent decrease in errors in four- to five-day forecasts. Although not mentioned in either release, CIMSS’s Jim Jung and Tom Zapotocny contributed to this advancement. For his Ph.D. thesis, Jung conducted scientific research on the concept. NASA and NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service (NESDIS) provided the satellite data to NOAA’s National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). Jung and Zapotocny collaborated with NCEP personnel to develop and optimize data selection routines. Jung and Zapotocny then conducted the impact studies to determine the effectiveness of the AIRS data.
Adapting to a new system—Although the operational date for the recently launched NOAA-18 is not until August 31, researchers already have access to data from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) on board the new satellite. Andrew Heidinger successfully modified the Clouds from AVHRR Extended (CLAVR-x) product to routinely process the incoming data from the instrument. So far, CLAVR-x operates without issue. Currently, only the CLAVR-x system at the Office of Research Applications processes the data, but the OSDPD CLAVR-x system will begin to process the data later this month.
Determining cloud type—The July issue of the Journal of Applied Meteorology included a paper titled “Daytime global cloud typing from AVHRR and VIRS: Algorithm description, validation and comparisons.” Co-authored by Mike Pavolonis (CIMSS), Andrew Heidinger (NOAA at SSEC), and Taniel Uttal (ETL), the paper describes, validates and compares three automated multispectral techniques that researchers use to distinguish different types of clouds from daytime satellite imagery.
Looking into the future—An article describing the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) ran in the August edition of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. Tim Schmit (NOAA at SSEC), Mathew Gunshor (CIMSS), Paul Menzel (NOAA at SSEC), Jun Li (CIMSS), Scott Bachmeier (CIMSS), and Jim Gurka (CIMSS) wrote this article titled “Introducing the next-generation advanced baseline imager (ABI) on GOES-R.” It summarizes different attributes of the ABI that will lead to a new era in geostationary environmental remote sensing. These include an increase in spectral bands, faster imaging, and higher spatial resolution.
A new place for space—SSEC was pleased to participate in the UW Space Place Open House on August 28 at their new location in the Villager Mall on Madison’s Park Street. It was a busy day—Among the many other presenters, SSEC researchers Sarah Bedka, Kris Bedka and John Short managed a steady stream of visitors at SSEC’s AERIbago in the parking lot. Terri Gregory explained the workings of the Diffuse X-ray Spectrometer in the main display area. Shelley Knuth presented the work of the Antarctic Meteorological Research Center at one table in the activities room. Jim Nelson and Tim Schmit (NOAA, stationed at SSEC) at another table showed myriad GOES applications. Schmit and Nelson focused their presentation on an overview of GOES, the recent F3 tornado in Stoughton, and a near-real time look at Hurricane Katrina. In television coverage of the event, NBC15 showed various inside activities, especially (of SSEC’s participation) the DXS, a most photogenic spaceflight instrument. The Wisconsin State Journal also documented the day. SSEC’s activities tables appeared in a picture.
Accolades—In response to some assistance from the SSEC Webmaster group, Larry Hoffacker said, “Thank you very much. I am very impressed with this site. Go Badgers!” Don Bailey provided some unsolicited praise: “Thank you for making us aware, keeping us informed, and exciting the imagination.”