746 Providing the Caribbean Community with VIIRS-Derived Weather Satellite and Dust Model Output in Preparation for African Dust Impacts

Tuesday, 24 January 2017
4E (Washington State Convention Center )
Arunas P. Kuciauskas, NRL, Monterey, CA; and P. Lynch, E. J. Hyer, M. I. Oyola, and J. R. Campbell

The Naval Research Laboratory Marine Meteorology Division (NRL-MMD) predicts, monitors, and trains Caribbean agencies in preparing for and mitigating unhealthy episodes of Saharan-based dust.  Of critical concern is the Saharan Air Layer (SAL), an elevated air mass of hot, dry, and often very dusty conditions that can be environmentally persistent and dangerous to the downstream Caribbean populace, resulting in respiratory illnesses; some of the world’s highest asthma rates and associated premature deaths have been documented within the Caribbean islands. The SAL not only impacts the greater Caribbean, but also the Gulf of Mexico, northern South America, and southern and central US.  One of the major responsibilities of the National Weather Service forecast office at San Juan, Puerto Rico (NWS-PR) is preparing the public within their area of responsibility for such events.

The NRL-MMD has been at the forefront of implementing and demonstrating the positive impact of Suomi-VIIRS during SAL events.  In preparation for SAL events, NRL-MMD is currently supporting the NWS-PR with near real time web-based products, primarily from VIIRS datasets.  Products include satellite imagery, forecasting the structure and intensities of African dust using the Navy Aerosol Analysis and Prediction System (NAAPS) dust output, and various additional environmental remotely sensed and ground-based measurements that augment the website.  Preliminary studies have shown that VIIRS has demonstrated significant improvements in the assessment and prediction of dust intensities related to SAL passages. Additional plans include person-to-person training of weather forecasting personnel. Besides NWS-PR, NRL-MMD also collaborates with and provides environmental support to the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) within regional coverage that stretches from the French Guyana northward through the West Indies island chain.  Finally, NRL-MMD is an active participant with the Caribbean Aerosol Health Network (CAHN), an international network of health and environmental agencies whose mission is to improve the understanding of the impacts (e.g., air quality, health, climate, weather, ecosystems) that atmospheric particles have particularly over the greater Caribbean region. The goal of this talk is demonstrate current and future efforts related to NRL-MMD state-of-the-art remote sensing and modeling resources in support of both Caribbean agencies and  the general populace during the approach and impact of SAL events.

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