An Overview of the 2014 Spring River Ice Breakup across Alaska and Utilization of the Suomi NPP VIIRS River Ice and Flooding Areal Extent Products

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Monday, 5 January 2015
Melissa Kreller, NOAA/NWSFO, Fairbanks, AK; and E. Holloway and E. Stevens

Over the past several years, the utilization of the Suomi NPP Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) satellite imagery for Alaska has proved to be an extremely beneficial tool for National Weather Service (NWS) meteorologist and hydrologists from the Fairbanks Weather Forecast Office (WFO) and Alaska Pacific River Forecast Center (APRFC). In particular, the use of the VIIRS satellite imagery became highly effective in seeing the expansive flooding extent of many Alaskan rivers due to ice jams during the 2013 spring breakup season. The disastrous 2013 ice jam flooding of the Yukon River in the village of Galena prompted the development of rive ice and flooding areal extent products derived from the Suomi NPP VIIRS satellite imagery by the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) Satellite Proving Ground in conjunction with the Community College of New York (CCNY) and George Mason University (GMU). These new and innovative river ice and flooding areal extent experimental products were delivered to the NWS Fairbanks WFO and APRFC for operational evaluation during the 2014 spring river ice breakup season in Alaska. A brief overview of the results from the evaluation of these new products during the 2014 spring breakup season will be provided. Limitations of the river ice and flooding areal extent products due to the unique issues of Alaska will also be discussed. A brief summary of the potential uses for summer river flooding will also be discussed. Finally, a summary of the future development of JPSS Proving Ground and Risk Reduction Project regarding the River Ice and Flooding Product Initiative will be provided.