NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 0426 UTC as viewed using RealEarth (below) revealed cloud-top infrared brightness temperatures near -60ºC (darker red enhancement).A toggle between Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) images at 1454 UTC or 1:54 am AEDT (below) displayed the nighttime glow and hot thermal signatures of large bushfires south and southeast of Canberra.
Himawari-8 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.4 µm) images (below) showed the development of 2 pyrocumulonimbus (pyroCb) clouds — the first over southern New South Wales west of Cooma (station identifier YCOM), and the second to the southwest of YCOM (near the border between Victoria and New South Wales). The second pyroCb eventually exhibited cloud-top infrared brightness temperature (IRBT) values of -70ºC and colder (purple pixels). To be classified as a pyroCb, a deep convective cloud must be generated by a large/hot fire, and eventually exhibit cloud-top 10.4 µm IRBTs of -40ºC and colder (thus assuring the heterogeneous nucleation of all supercooled water droplets to ice crystals within the thunderstorm anvil).An aircraft flying very near or through one of these pyroCb clouds experienced severe turbulence:
Here’s how it looked from space. Storm encounter was at approx. 07:47 UTC. pic.twitter.com/shuDaCk1ti
— SatWx Aviation (@SatWx_Aviation) January 6, 2020
Farther to the north, another pyroCb developed near Nowra, New South Wales (YSNW) — which briefly exhibited a -40ºC cloud-top IRBT at 0319 UTC, but then re-intensified around 08 UTC (below). In a sequence of VIIRS True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) and Infrared Window (11.45 um) images from NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP as viewed using RealEarth (below), the Nowra pyroCb was less ambiguous during the 03-04 UTC time period — and the aforementioned pair of pyroCbs straddling the border between Victoria and New South Wales were also evident.
===== 06 January Update =====On 06 January, GOES-16 (GOES-East) Natural Color RGB images (above) displayed the hazy signature of high-altitude smoke (originating from previous episodes of Australian fires) over parts of Chile and Argentina — and the corresponding GOES-16 Smoke Detection derived product flagged much of this feature as “High Confidence” smoke (red).
In addition, GOES-17 (GOES-West) True Color RGB images created using Geo2Grid (below) showed a dense pall of smoke over the South Pacific Ocean (northeast of New Zealand). This was smoke from the 04 January outbreak of fires.
===== 08 January Update =====Full Disk GOES-17 True Color RGB images from the AOS site (above) showed the slow eastward transport of a dense pall of smoke (hazy shades of tan to light brown) across the South Pacific Ocean during the 05-08 January period.
The coldest cloud-top 10.4 µm infrared brightness temperature was -62.6ºC (darker green pixels) at 1650 UTC. According to rawinsonde data from Melbourne (below), this corresponded to an altitude near 13 km.The long/narrow thermal anomaly of the hot bushfire — which burned southwestward all the way to the coast — was outlined in dark black pixels on VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images from NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP, as viewed using RealEarth (below).
===== 30 December Update =====A Himawari-8 Target Sector was positioned over southeastern Australia beginning at 2312 UTC on 29 December, providing images at 2.5-minute intervals — a comparison of Shortwave Infrared and Longwave Infrared Window imagery (above) revealed the formation of several additional pyroCb clouds as southeastern Victoria bushfires continued to grow in number and size. During the daytime, pyroCb cloud tops will appear warmer (darker gray) than those of conventional thunderstorms in the 3.9 µm imagery, due to enhanced reflection of solar radiation off the smaller ice crystals found in the pyroCb anvil. Development of the multiple deep convective pyroCb clouds on this day may have been aided by forcing for ascent provided by an approaching cold front and mid-tropospheric trough, along with favorable upper-tropospheric jet streak dynamics.
The coldest Himawari-8 cloud-top 10.4 µm brightness temperature was -73.15ºC at 13:24:41 UTC (violet pixel near the coast); this was 5ºC colder than the coldest temperature of -68.1ºC — at an altitude of 15 km — on 12 UTC rawinsonde data from Melbourne (below). During the 12-hour period between the 2 soundings, the coded tropopause ascended from a height of 13.1 km (-63.7ºC) at 00 UTC to 14.2 km (-67.5ºC) at 12 UTC.In a toggle between VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images from NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP is shown (below), a large pyroCb cloud was seen moving eastward away from the bushfires.
===== 31 December Update =====Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band, Shortwave Infrared, Near-Infrared & Active Fire Product images (above) showed nighttime signatures of the widespread bushfires across Victoria and New South Wales at 1455 UTC on 31 December (or 1:55 am local time on 01 January). In the town of Mallacoota, about 4000 people were forced to evacuate their homes and take shelter along the coast (media report). The surface air temperature at Mallacoota Airport briefly increased to 49ºC (120ºF) at 8:00 am local time as the fires approached (below).
— Bureau of Meteorology, Victoria (@BOM_Vic) December 30, 2019
A sequence of daily Aqua MODIS True Color RGB images with an overlay of VIIRS Fire Radiative Power showed the fires and smoke during the 29-31 December period (below).
A multi-day Himawari-8 GeoColor animation covering the period 28 December – 01 January is available here.
VIIRS True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images from Suomi NPP and NOAA-20 as viewed using RealEarth are shown below. Cloud-top 11.45 µm brightness temperatures of the northern pyroCb thunderstorm were in the -70 to -75ºC range on the later 0407 UTC Suomi NPP image.
A 1.5-day animation of GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared images (from 12 UTC on 17 August to 2350 UTC on 18 August) revealed the rapid southeastward run of the fire to the Bolivia/Paraguay border on 17 August, followed by the eastward expansion of the fire line on 18 August (below).
A toggle between Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images as viewed using RealEarth (below) showed the large and dense smoke plume streaming southeastward, with the small pyroCb along the Bolivia/Paraguay border at 1745 UTC — the brighter white tops of the pyrocumulus and pyrocumulonimbus clouds reached higher altitudes than the tan-colored smoke plume. The coldest cloud-top infrared brightness temperature was about -55ºC (orange enhancement), which corresponded to an altitude around 9 km according to rawinsonde data from Corumbá, Bolivia.
Looking more closely at yesterday's smoke over South America, the aerosol index from #NOAA20 #OMPS was in double digits! Values on the right refer to the UTC of the measurements. pic.twitter.com/3XBqoEVs4M
— Colin Seftor (@colin_seftor) August 19, 2019
Strong northerly to northwesterly surface winds were blowing across the region, in advance of an approaching cold front (surface analyses) — at Robore, Bolivia (located just north-northwest of the fires), winds were gusting to 25-28 knots during much of the day (below). This is possibly the second documented case of a South American pyroCb (the first being on 29 January 2018) — in addition, it’s the second pyroCb documented in the tropics and the first pyroCb documented during a winter season. Thanks to Mike Fromm (NRL) for bringing this case to our attention!
A faster animation revealed the rapid northeastward run of the large pyroCb-producing fire on Shortwave Infrared imagery.
In a sequence of three VIIRS True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images from NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP as viewed using RealEarth (above), the coldest cloud-top infrared brightness temperature of the pyroCb was -59ºC — which closely corresponded to the tropopause temperature on 00 UTC rawinsonde data from Habarovsk (below), located just southwest of the fire region.
Here’s the aerosol index from N20 OMPS pic.twitter.com/x3T12mi5ml
— Colin Seftor (@colin_seftor) April 30, 2019