Multi-sensor visualization and assessment of the state of the atmosphere during the June 1 2009 AF447 crash

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Monday, 18 January 2010
Gregory Leptoukh, NASA, Greenbelt, MD; and D. Ostrenga, H. H. Aumann, Z. Liu, and A. Savtchenko

On the early morning hours on June 01, 2009 Air France Flight 447 disappeared into the Atlantic Ocean at the approximate location of 259′N 3035′W, while en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. Approximately four hours after take off, the plane's route took it through an intense mesoscale convective system playing a key role into the tragedy that took place. Aumann et al have suggested that the so-called Tropopause Penetrating Convection (TPC) event might be associated with the fate of AF447. The amount of energy released in a single TPC can be estimated from the associated rain rate and the associated release of latent heat using AIRS and AMSR-E sensor on the Aqua satellite. For the June 1 event, it is intriguing to explore what additional insight can be provided using data from other remote sensing data collected over that area around the same time. For this short note, we used various data access and visualization tools available at the NASA Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center (GES DISC) to demonstrate how easy it is to assess the state of the atmospheric before, during, and after events like the AF447 crash using this multi-sensor approach. One example of the analysis done was using infrared imagery from geostationary satellites, which showed the existence of a cluster of powerful cumulonimbus identifiable on the AF flight route from 1 h 30 UTC. It is quite noticeable that this cluster resulted from the merging of four smaller clusters and its extension from west to east over around 400 km. Near Real-Time data could be used to generate a general aviation alert and current efforts are being made to implement this. Additional examples use data from TRMM, MODIS, AIRS, CloudSat and CALIPSO.