Integration of RGB "Dust" Imagery to Operations at the Albuquerque Forecast Office

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Tuesday, 4 February 2014: 9:00 AM
Room C202 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Kevin K. Fuell, Univ. of Alabama, Huntsville, AL; and B. Guyer and D. Kann

The NASA/Short-term Prediction, Research, and Transition (SPoRT) Program has been providing unique Red-Green-Blue (RGB) composite imagery to its operational partners since 2005. In the early years of activity these RGB products were related to a True Color RGB, showing what one's own eyes would see if looking down at earth from space, as well as a Snow-Cloud RGB (i.e. False Color), separating clouds from snow on the ground. More recently SPoRT has used the EUMETSAT Best Practices standards for RGB composites to transition a wide array of imagery for multiple uses. A “Dust” RGB product has had particular use at the Albuquerque, New Mexico WFO. Several cases have occurred where users were able to isolate dust plume locations for mesoscale and microscale events during day and night time conditions. Blowing dust is a significant hazard in the SW desert, and with the relatively sparse coverage of observations with visibility and weather, and satellite product that can depict the spatial extent of blowing dust is exceptionally useful. The extent defined by the imagery, when combined with the forecasts of wind direction and speeds as well as mixing results in a tool, has greatly benefited short-term forecasting at ABQ. Even with the infrequent imagery from MODIS and VIIRS, impacts have been seen to aviation forecasts. This is a result of strong synergy and relationship building between the research and operational teams.

In addition the “Dust” RGB can be used for more than just detection of dust as it is sensitive to the changes in density due to atmospheric moisture content. Hence low-level dry boundaries can often be discriminated. This type of imagery is a large change from the single channel imagery typically used by operational forecast staff and hence, can be a challenge to interpret. This presentation aims to discuss the integration of such new imagery into operational use as well as the benefits assessed by the Albuquerque WFO over several documented events.