Satellite cloud products for air weather safety applications in remote areas

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Wednesday, 1 February 2006
Satellite cloud products for air weather safety applications in remote areas
Exhibit Hall A2 (Georgia World Congress Center)
P. Minnis, NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA; and L. Nguyen, W. L. Smith, Jr., J. J. Murray, D. A. Spangenberg, R. Palikonda, and Q. Trepte

Poster PDF (2.3 MB)

In remote areas like Alaska and northern Canada, low altitude flights are common forms of transportation, but the temporal and spatial density of surface and aircraft observations relevant to air weather in those areas is minimal. With the continuous availability of well-calibrated research satellites and the advent of more spectral channels and higher resolution on geostationary satellite imagers such the GOES-I (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite) series or the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on Terra and Aqua, it has become possible to provide better quantification of cloud properties that are useful for diagnosing conditions such as aircraft icing potential and ceiling height or for providing other information such as surface radiation, cloud water content, or other parameters that would be useful for energy, agriculture, or weather forecast assimilation. Currently, GOES data are being analyzed in near-real-time over southern Canada and the contiguous United States to provide estimates of cloud-top and base heights and cloud liquid water path (LWP) that are used for determining icing conditions and ceiling height. In this paper, the same analysis methods applied over those more southern areas are used to analyze GOES and MODIS data over Alaska and northwestern Canada to test their ability to provide useful information about icing potential and ceiling heights in those more remote regions. The high temporal resolution data from GOES are valuable for the southern portion of the analysis domain, while the MODIS data provide less frequent but higher resolution data for the entire domain. The results are compared with surface observations and pilot reports. This initial study anticipates the development of a high-latitude Current Icing Potential product based on numerical weather prediction for the Alaska region and the availability of MODIS-like sensors on the future NOAA Polar Orbiting Environmental Satellite Series (NPOESS). The use of satellite data for diagnosing icing potential and ceiling heights should be valuable for future flight safety systems in remote areas.