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Demonstration of SNPP VIIRS fire and aerosol product applications
for NWS Applications through "fire & smoke" initiative

Principal Investigator: Shobha Kondragunta

S-NPP VIIRS fire hot spots and smoke mask image

SNPP VIIRS fire hot spots (red dots), smoke mask (pink-magenta) overlaid on true color image for August 14, 2015. Image generated using Sensor Data Records (SDRs) from direct broadcast data downloaded at University of Wisconsin - Madison. The algorithm that generated the smoke mask is a research algorithm that is being tested on the DB data. The granules from CONUS and Alaska are processed daily and images distributed through IDEA

The SNPP VIIRS fire and smoke products are currently distributed to operational users including air quality forecasters through the IDEA (Infusing satellite Data into Environmental Applications) website that includes products generated from Direct Broadcast (DB data). Under the fire&smoke initiative, the objective is to enhance the IDEA display system with targeted regions as a focus and interactive zoom capability to the city level so IMETs (Incident Meteorologists) can use the system while on ground using their device of choice (e.g., smartphones). Products to be displayed are fire hot spots, fire radiative power (FRP) from the new VIIRS operational fire product, proxy burned area computed from regression models, and areal extent of smoke and dust plumes. This web-based dissemination system reaches out to many operational users, in particular air quality forecasters. However, forecasters at weather forecasting offices (WFOs) often have limited time to access multiple web-based data and therefore rely on data coming into their AWIPS monitors. To facilitate the WFOs, the plan is to reformat VIIRS fire and smoke products available on the IDEA website and make them available for AWIPS-II applications. As the first phase of this project, STAR aerosol team gave seminars, interactive tutorials, and live demos to introduce SNPP VIIRS fire and aerosol products that are available on the IDEA website.

The summer 2015 has been a very active fire season in the western region, Alaska, and Canada. Figure 7 shows SNPP VIIRS fire hot spots and smoke mask overlaid on true color image over CONUS (Contiguous United States) for August 14, 2015. The smoke mask flag (shown in magenta-pink color) along with aerosol optical thickness (AOT) product provides the forecasters with information on not only the amount of aerosol in the atmosphere but also the type of aerosol. The smoke and dust mask from the operational product stream generated by the IDPS system is not operational as its quality is not good. STAR aerosol team developed an alternate algorithm that runs on the DB data and provides it along with AOT product. These satellite-derived products are the staple for air quality forecasters who are well trained on how to use these products in their daily air quality forecasts. However, the weather forecasters, especially in the western region, who are increasingly being asked to address the smoke forecasting needs are not familiar with satellite derived aerosol products. To address this, a presentation by an air quality forecaster was given to participants of the fire & smoke initiative on the case study of June 9, 2015 involving the transport of smoke from fires in Alaska and Canada and how the smoke led to air quality standard violations for the eastern US. This presentation along with other informal telecons, was used to expose the forecasters in the Western Region and Alaska to SNPP VIIRS aerosol products.

As a result of various meetings including a 1-day satellite air quality proving ground workshop on September 9, 2015, the VIIRS fire & smoke team obtained valuable feedback to revise the dissemination of the products. Although forecasters use products from different satellites, some of them prefer a blended product. This blended product of fire and smoke aerosols need to inform them where the hot spots are, where the smoke is now, and where the smoke is headed. In particular, they are not concerned about which specific satellite has provided this information. Contrary to this, air quality forecasters well trained in the use of satellite data prefer observations from different satellites at different times to capture diurnal variability in aerosols and changes to cloud cover. To meet these two diverse requirements, the IDEA website will be modified to have one- stop information on fires and smoke for different regions (e.g., NWS Alaska, NWS Western Region, etc.). The blended version of product display system will also be ported to AWIPS-II.